A Republican House candidate in Florida threatened to make a primary opponent "disappear" via "a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad" during a secret recording, Politico reported Thursday.
William Braddock, running for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., repeatedly warned a conservative activist not to support fellow GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna because he had access to assassins. The 30-minute phone call was recorded before Braddock entered the race.
"I really don't want to have to end anybody's life for the good of the people of the United States of America," Braddock said during the conversation last week, according to the recording.
"That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f***ing speed bump in the road. She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood."
Contacted by Politico via text, Braddock refused to say whether he threatened Luna to Erin Olszewski, who recorded the conversation.
Braddock would not give a yes or no answer after being repeatedly asked via text if he mentioned Russian-Ukrainian hit squads. He told Politico he had not heard the recording, and that it was "allegedly me … there is no proof of that."
He also suggested to Politico 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," Braddock told Politico.
Olszewski, saying she had been concerned about Braddock's "unhinged" dislike of Luna previously expressed, denied editing or altering the recording to Politico. She initiated the call just after midnight June 9 because he kept trying to get her to appear on a health care panel for an event.
Olszewski immediately turned over the recording to police in St. Petersburg, Florida. She also informed Luna, who filed a petition for an injunction against Braddock.
Luna received a temporary restraining order against Braddock on Friday, three days before he filed to run.
Early during the recorded call, Braddock mentioned alleged assassins.
"I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians," he said, adding "don't get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it's by herself."
Luna, an Air Force veteran and former model, won a crowded Republican primary last year in the state's 13th Congressional District. She lost the general election to Crist, who has announced plans to run for governor.
Braddock told Olszewski he didn't think Luna could win in the general election.
"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," Braddock said.
To which Olszewski responded, "Damn."
Braddock continued. "You cannot tell anybody that," he said.
"I would never tell anybody that," Olszewski said.
"For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few," Braddock said. "For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we've got to sacrifice the few."
Later in the call, Olszewski asked Braddock what would happen if "Luna is gonna win." He said that wouldn’t happen.
"She’s gonna be gone. Period. That's the end of the discussion. Luna is not an issue," said Braddock, a lower-tier candidate in an increasingly crowded race for Crist’s seat.
"No snipers. Up close and personal. So they know that the target has gone."
Florida law makes it a third-degree felony to record another person without their knowledge. Olszewski said St. Petersburg police told her she had nothing to worry about in recording the conversation and turning it over to authorities.
Braddock indicated he was ready to sue Olszewski.
"The folks in possession of whatever recording they think they have of myself or someone else (which may even be altered and edited) will be facing civil damages suit(s) when the paperwork is file [sic] with the county and felony charges after I file with the local police department,” Braddock said in his text message to Politico.
"I strongly advise not to get involved because the civil suits will continue to be filed until people stop sharing them because whomever is on the recording did not consent to be recorded in my humble opinion."
Olszewski, a nurse by training, became a conservative figure last year after writing a book called "Undercover Epicenter Nurse: How Fraud, Negligence, and Greed Led to Unnecessary Deaths at Elmhurst Hospital."
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