A Florida GOP congressional candidate was recently secretly recorded threatening Republican rival Anna Paulina Luna with “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” that would make her “disappear.”
In the recording, a man identified by Erin Olszewski as Braddock tells her she should not support Luna, one of several candidates vying for the seat in 2022 being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.). Braddock has declined to say if he is the man who was recorded.
The June 9 call turned dark when the man identified as Braddock said he could “call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they’re sending me pictures of her disappearing.”
“I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” he said, the recording shows. “That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a … speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”
Braddock, a 37-year-old attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday. Braddock, who this week filed to run for the same congressional seat as Luna, would not tell Politico whether he was the one making threats on the call and suggested the recording “may even be altered and edited.”
“This is a dirty political tactic that has caused a lot of people a lot of stress and is completely unnecessary,” he said to the outlet.
Luna, who last week accused Braddock of conspiring to kill her, told The Washington Post in a statement Thursday that she could not comment on the recording “due to multiple ongoing law enforcement investigations of this matter.”
“Those investigations are based upon Mr. Braddock’s own threats and actions, and we are confident the facts will be public at the appropriate time,” Luna said.
Ken Knight, a spokesman with the St. Petersburg Police Department, confirmed to The Post that the recording had been handed to investigators but that authorities cannot comment due to a restraining order Luna obtained against Braddock last week.
Olszewski, a nurse previously accused by some in the health-care industry of spreading disinformation, did not immediately return a request for comment. Olszewski, who acknowledged being friends with Luna, denied to Politico that she edited or altered the recording.
The unearthed recording comes after Luna, a 32-year-old Republican firebrand supported by former president Donald Trump and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), claimed in a request for a court injunction she had received information about how Braddock was working with two previous political opponents to fatally harm her “in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for FL-13,” reported the Tampa Bay Times. Luna was defeated by Crist in the 2020 general election.
Luna was referring to Andrea Makki, who lost to her in the 2020 GOP primary, and former Republican congressional candidate Matt Tito. Both have vehemently denied the claims, with Tito indicating to local media that they are discussing a possible defamation claim.
She says Braddock has twice sought her out and has also attempted to reach her husband, Andy Gamberzky.
“I do not feel safe and am currently in fear for my life,” she wrote. “I feel and fear this is an orchestrated attempt on my life being organized and carried out by William Braddock.”
Braddock, considered a lower-tier Republican candidate in next year’s election, has denied Luna’s accusations, telling the Times he has only met her once.
Knight, with the St. Petersburg Police Department, told The Post that authorities cannot comment on the recording handed over to them due to the injunction.
Braddock had a 30-minute call with Olszewski after midnight on June 9, Politico reported. Olszewski told the outlet she recorded the call because she had grown concerned over the “threatening” messages he left her about Luna. It remains unclear why Braddock allegedly voiced animosity toward Luna.
Minutes into the call, the man identified by Olszewski as Braddock is heard telling Olszewski, unprompted, how, “I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians,” according to the recording. When asked why he would need access to assassins, he allegedly pledged Olszewski to secrecy and said they were for his Republican rival, the recording shows.
“My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary. And if the poll says Luna’s gonna win, she’s gonna be gone. She’s gonna disappear,” he said, according to the recording. “For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few. … For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we’ve got to sacrifice the few.”
Later, he repeated how Luna was “gonna be gone” and that she was “not an issue.” When he mentioned how assassins could send him pictures of Luna disappearing, he described the alleged hit squad as “Russian mafia” who used “close-battle combat, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, silencers kind of thing.”
“No, I’m not joking,” he said to Olszewski, according to the recording. “Like, this is beyond my control this point.”
Shortly after the call, Olszewski said she handed over the recording to police and reached out to Luna about what happened. Based on that information given by Olszewski, Luna filed for the restraining order.
Although it is a third-degree felony in Florida to record a person without their consent, Olszewski claimed to Politico that authorities told her she had nothing to worry about. Police could not comment to The Post about that alleged assurance or whether the call was legally recorded. An incident report obtained by The Post shows the case is under “further investigation.”
A hearing on whether to extend Luna’s temporary injunction against Braddock is scheduled for Tuesday. The Florida Republican Party did not immediately return a request for comment.