Mr. Mastriano, a far-right Pennsylvania state senator who has falsely argued that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, rarely speaks to traditional news outlets.
In recent days, pressure from Republicans in Pennsylvania and beyond for Mr. Mastriano to condemn Gab and quit the site has grown. Andy Reilly, the national Republican committeeman for Pennsylvania, who hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Mastriano at his suburban Philadelphia home on Wednesday, said in an interview that Gab was “shameful” and “shouldn’t be part of the usual political dialogue.”
“Doug should make sure he makes it clear that he doesn’t agree with the people posting hateful things on the site,’’ Mr. Reilly said several hours before Mr. Mastriano released his statement on Thursday evening.
The two-paragraph statement neither addressed whether Mr. Mastriano, like Mr. Torba, follows a policy of not giving interviews to non-Christian news outlets, nor clarified why he had paid Gab $5,000. According to reporting by HuffPost, Mr. Mastriano may have paid Gab to increase his following on the site: New users appeared to be automatically assigned as followers of the Republican nominee.
About an hour before Mr. Mastriano’s statement was posted, Mr. Torba wrote on Gab that he did not work for the Mastriano campaign and was not its consultant. “The campaign paid Gab as a business for advertising during the primary,” he said. “The campaign posts on Gab, as do 50+ other campaigns from around the country. That’s the extent of the relationship.”
Later on Thursday, Mr. Mastriano made his Gab account private and then removed it, according to The Forward.
The Democratic nominee for governor, Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish, responded to Mr. Mastriano’s statement Thursday by recalling his praise for Mr. Torba in May: “Thank God for what you’ve done.”