According to trial testimony on Tuesday, a former political opponent of the Republican Florida congressional candidate repeatedly made violent threats to “get him out,” even claiming he was a Russian to kill him. And can call the Ukrainian hit squad.
The civil trial concerns whether a temporary restraining order granted to candidate Anna Paulina Luna should be made permanent, which would prevent 2020 GOP primary rival William Braddock from making contact with her. A friend of Luna’s, Erin Olszewski, also sought a permanent restraining order against Braddock.
Luna testified that she had only brief personal contact with Braddock at a political event, but last spring heard from several acquaintances that he was allegedly threatening to kill her.
“Mr. Braddock clearly hated my guts and wanted to hurt me,” said Luna, an Air Force veteran and media consultant. “I was starting to be so scared of him. It was horrifying, and still is.”
“I think he’s a wicked person,” she said. “I think he definitely terrorized me emotionally.”
Braddock, a former Marine who has denied any wrongdoing, was running again this year in Florida’s 13th congressional district, but dropped out of the stalking case in July, citing publicity. He was later scheduled to testify at trial.
The case is before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Donne Lore. It was not immediately clear when she would rule on the restraining order.
Luna is again a candidate for the seat being vacated by Democrat Charlie Crist who is running for governor. Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday backed Luna, as he did in his failed 2020 campaign against Christ.
Olszewski testified Tuesday that he secretly recorded a phone call he began with Braddock in June in which he claimed the Russian-Ukrainian hit squad would have responded quickly to a phone call.
“I was shaken. I had to, in fact, hold my breath,” Olszewski testified via Zoom. “I had never heard a real threat like this in my life.”
Olszewski, a nurse and single mother who is active in Republican politics, also said that Braddock made veiled threats against her, referring to her three children if she disclosed what she said about Luna.
“It’s scary. I didn’t know what he was capable of and what he had done in the past,” she said. “He got very angry. If she came close to winning, he said he would knock her out.
“Her words were that it would be close combat contact. That she wouldn’t even see it coming because they would befriend her,” Olszewski said of the assassination plan.
Olszewski said she recorded the contents of the Braddock call with Luna on an iPad, and the two women called the police. No criminal charges have been brought.
Several other witnesses testified about similar communications with Braddock regarding Luna. Many of them are affiliated with a conservative political group called the Community Patriot Pinellas, which also includes Witness Audra Christian.
She testified about several messages she exchanged with Braddock, in one of which she said, “We can’t give Luna a crazy win” and another that she worried about Luna writing legislation in Congress. Were “Because he’s a fool.”
Christian testified, “his vocabulary was becoming increasingly violent.” “Most men don’t talk like that.”
Another witness, Arthur Macwell, said Braddock told him he had seen people pass by Luna’s house in St. Petersburg. “It was very worrying,” he said.
In 2020, Luna lost the District 13 congressional race to Most Famous Christ by nearly 24,600 votes. Crist was previously the governor of Florida as a Republican and has served or run for several other elected positions.
Other candidates seeking the congressional seat so far are Democratic state legislators Ben Diamond and Michelle Raynor, former Obama administration official Eric Lynn and Christian Hotchkiss.
Luna has been challenged on the GOP side by Amanda McKee, a former Washington lobbyist who lost the 2020 primary to Luna, and two other lesser-known candidates.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /