Claims of murder plot against GOP candidate in Florida court

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA (AP) — Claims by a Republican congressional candidate that another GOP hopeful plotted to kill her landed on Tuesday in a Florida courtroom.

Anna Paulina Luna, who plans to run for Florida’s District 13 seat after losing a race for the slot in 2020 to Democratic United States (US) Representative Charlie Crist, contends in court documents that GOP challenger William Braddock is stalking her and wants her dead. Luna has filed a petition for a permanent restraining order.

Pinellas County Circuit Judge Doneene Loar had previously granted a temporary restraining order for Luna and a conservative activist and friend of hers, Erin Olszewski, after the allegations surfaced.

In court on Tuesday, Braddock, who has already filed as a GOP candidate, told a judge he opposes the injunction and wants to “obtain, review and validate” any evidence against him.

He did not directly address the accusations but has denied them in the past and called them politically motivated.

“I don’t know what they have,” he said in court.

Loar agreed to delay the hearing until July 9 to allow both sides to exchange evidence. She said the temporary restraining orders against Braddock and Olszewski will remain in effect, and she cautioned him to not violate them.

Republican candidate for United States House of Representatives Anna Paulina Luna waves during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida. PHOTO: AP

In her petition, Luna claims she received text messages recently between Braddock and some associates in which he allegedly said he wanted to “take me (Luna) out”. She also said others told her “that means he intends to kill me”.

“I do not feel safe and I am currently in fear for my life from Braddock,” Luna said in her petition.

The case took a darker and somewhat bizarre turn last week when Politico reported that Olszewski had secretly recorded a phone call with Braddock earlier this month in which he said the alleged “Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” could kill Luna within 24 hours.

“Luna’s going to go down and I hope it’s by herself,” Braddock said in the recording, according to Politico, which said it had obtained the recording. “For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we’ve got to sacrifice the few.”

According to the report, Braddock described the “hit squad” as being armed for “close-battle combat” to make sure nothing was left to chance.

“No snipers. Up close and personal. So they know the target has gone,” Braddock said, according to the Politico report.

The online news site quoted Braddock as saying he hadn’t heard the recording and that there was no proof it was him on it.

The recording was not mentioned in Luna’s petition or in Tuesday’s hearing, which was conducted by video conference.

Politico said Olszewski turned the recording over to law enforcement officials, who declined to release any information to The Associated Press (AP), citing an ongoing investigation.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Olszewski did not respond to phone calls and emails from the AP. Her attorney, Katherine Yanes, said in an email on Tuesday that they were pleased with the judge’s ruling keeping the injunction in place but had no further comment.