PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mark Salvas says he was forced to resign over two social media posts, one that he posted a year ago and one that his wife posted in July.
“I was asked by the chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Party to resign my position due to the controversy that was taking place on social media, and I did,” Salvas told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday. “It’s never easy when people you have never met accuse you of things and call you names, and you’ve never met them.”
A former Marine and Gulf War veteran, Salvas was just hired in September as executive director of the county party, long after he posted a picture of his wife and him on Facebook with the words, “I stand for the flag, I kneel at the cross.”
“I’m not ashamed of my patriotism, not one bit. I fought for this country. I think I have a right to have a voice and be patriotic,” says Salvas.
But he says NFL players can take a knee.
“That’s part of what the flag stands for. It gives them the right to do that,” says Salvas.
But Salvas chooses to stand.
Salvas: “I stand for the flag, I kneel for the cross.”
Delano: “No apologies?”
Salvas: “Not at all. Not at all.”
But some on social media called that inappropriate for a Democratic party leader, including a second post from Salvas’ wife asking for support for their close friends, the family of officer Michael Rosfeld, who is accused of killing Antwon Rose II.
“What happened to Antwon Rose was a tragedy. I don’t think anybody doubts that. I think we can all agree on that. A young man lost his life and that’s a shame,” says Salvas. “Officer Rosfeld, Michael Rosfeld, is as close to me and my family as anyone could be. I have known that young man since he was literally 3-years-old. They are family to us.
Salvas says, like the Rose family, the Rosfeld family is struggling with the tragedy.
“They have been there for us in hard times, and my wife and I felt it was necessary to be there for them because family backs family,” he said.
KDKA’s Jon Delano Reports:
But Pennsylvania Rep. Ed Gainey says that post offended an important segment of the Democratic Party.
“To put that up on Facebook was, to me, insensitive, also to African Americans, who, as you know, have backed the Democratic Party for quite a long time, and everybody knows that it was insensitive,” said Gainey. “If you’re going to be executive director of the Democratic Party, you have to be sensitive to things like that.”
Party officials would not comment on Salvas’ forced resignation, saying it was a personnel matter, but state Rep. Jake Wheatley added that once you become a party official your personal views have to be put aside.
“As an official, he has to be very careful and sensitive that his words and his posts are not necessarily just his. They are reflective of the party in its entirety,” noted Wheatley.
Gainey, who knows Salvas, says Salvas is not a racist.
Salvas has a bi-racial child and African Americans in his family.
For his part, Salvas says he believes the party is still a big tent party.
“There’s a place for all of us and all of our views,” he said.