Campaign

Florida GOP candidate threatens opponent with Russian-Ukrainian 'hit squad' in leaked call: report

A Florida GOP congressional candidate was caught in a secret recording published by Politico Thursday apparently threatening to send "a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad" after his primary opponent to make her "disappear." 

In the 30-minute call from last week that was obtained by Politico, William Braddock told conservative activist Erin Olszewski that his competitor, Anna Paulina Luna, is "not an issue" when Olszewski asked what would happen if "Luna is gonna win." 

"She's gonna be gone. Period. That's the end of the discussion," Braddock can be heard saying. 

"How do we make her go, though? I just don't understand that," Olszewski questioned, before Braddock replied, "I call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they're sending me pictures of her disappearing." 

"No, I'm not joking. Like, this is beyond my control this point," he added. 

Braddock went on to described the hit team as "Russian mafia. Close-battle combat, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, silencers kind of thing. No snipers. Up close and personal. So they know that the target has gone."

At one point in the conversation, the candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by Florida Rep. Charlie Crist (D), who is running for governor, said that while he didn't want "to have to end anybody's life for the good of the people of the United States of America," he added, "if it needs to be done, it needs to be done." 

"Luna is a f------ speed bump in the road," Braddock said. "She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood."

In text messages to Politico, Braddock would not confirm or deny whether he said he would send a hit squad but said that the recording is only "allegedly" him and that it "may even be altered and edited."

Braddock told Politico that the recording was "a dirty political tactic that has caused a lot of people a lot of stress and is completely unnecessary."

He could not immediately be reached for comment by The Hill. 

Politico reports that Olszewski, a nurse who rose to prominence as a conservative figure last year after publishing a book on the health care industry that some have accused of promoting disinformation, denied editing or altering the recording. She told the publication she decided to record the conversation due to concerns over previous remarks from Braddock in which he expressed an "unhinged" dislike of Luna. 

The recording comes just days after Luna obtained a temporary stalking injunction against Braddock, claiming he had conspired with two other potential candidates to kill her. 

Luna wrote in the petition for the injunction that she had "received information" on an alleged plan "to murder me made by William Braddock in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for FL-13," referring to the congressional district that includes the Florida cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater. 

When contacted about the recording obtained by Politico, Luna said in a statement shared with The Hill, "I have no comment at this time 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," she added.

Outbrain