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Fla. Police Investigating GOP Candidate's Threat to Send 'Hit Squad' After His Political Rival

·4-min read

Chris O'Meara/AP/Shutterstock Anna Paulina Luna

Local police say they are investigating the alleged threats made by a Republican congressional candidate against his political rival, PEOPLE has confirmed.

GOP candidate William Braddock reportedly threatened to make his fellow Republican candidate Anna Paulina Luna "disappear" during the call, according to audio of the secretly-recorded conversation published by Politico on Thursday.

The two Republicans are both running for Florida's 13th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department provided PEOPLE with an incident report that says the matter is under "further investigation."

The police spokesperson declined to provide more information about the investigation and attempts to reach Luna, 36, and Braddock, 37, were unsuccessful Thursday.

In the recording of the 30-minute call with a conservative activist, Braddock said Luna was "gonna go down."

"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 in the recording, Politico reported. "That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done."

Braddock was speaking with local conservative activist Erin Olszewski, according to the outlet, who soon after turned the recording over to police.

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

The GOP candidate added: "I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians."

He told Olszewski to not "get caught out in public supporting Luna … Luna's gonna go down and I hope it's by herself."

Olszewski told Politico she made the recording secretly last Wednesday and has since turned it over to St. Petersburg, Fla., police department. She also alerted Luna, who obtained a stalking injunction against Braddock, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Chris O'Meara/AP/Shutterstock Anna Paulina Luna

In Luna's petition for the temporary restraining order obtained by Florida Politics, the 36-year-old Republican writes: "I feel and fear this is an orchestrated attempt on my life being organized and carried out by William Braddock."

Luna added in the petition that she believes Braddock is working alongside two other former congressional candidates, Matt Tito and Amanda Makki, to "take me out."

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Tito previously called on Luna - who has previously been endorsed by former President Donald Trump - to end her campaign.

"I'm shocked, but it's kind of like this is what she does," Tito told the Times when he was asked about the accusations. "She can't debate you on the policy issues. She plays the victim better than anybody I've ever seen."

Makki echoed that language, telling the Times: "If Luna can't handle running against another candidate, then she doesn't have the temperament to be in politics. I really think that she's exhibiting behavior that I would say is concerning."

According to Florida Politics, the injunction bans Braddock from a local coffee shop known for its political gatherings, in addition to any venue where Luna is making an appearance.

Braddock told Politico "there is no proof" that it's him on the phone call when asked about the recording, adding that it "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 told the outlet.

Braddock threatened to take legal action against those "in possession of whatever recording they think they have of myself or someone else." (Politico reported that in Florida, it's a third-degree felony to record another person without their knowledge.)

Braddock previously told the Times that Luna was "off her rocker," after she filed the temporary injunction.

According to Federal Election Commission data, Braddock filed to run as a Republican candidate for the same congressional seat Luna is seeking earlier this week.

Luna previously ran for Florida's 13th district seat last year, losing to incumbent Rep. Charlie Crist. Crist, a Democrat, is vacating his seat next year to run for governor.

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