William Braddock may have set some kind of Florida record: In the state’s crowded pack of Republican bozos running for Congress, he’s the only one in recent memory (and possibly ever) to allegedly threaten a political opponent with murder by a heavily armed Russian-Ukrainian mafia death squad.
Politico reported on Thursday that Braddock, an attorney and long-shot candidate who was virtually unknown until now, threatened conservative activist Erin Olszewski not to support rival Republican Anna Paulina Luna for Florida’s 13th Congressional District because he had assassins working for him. During a 30-minute phone call—which Olszewski secretly recorded and subsequently handed to the police—Braddock violated the first rule of contract killing and explained his plan to pay for Luna’s murder in excruciating detail over the phone.
About three minutes into the audio, Braddock said “I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians.” He added that when this Eastern European dream team struck, any bystanders who didn’t endorse him might get added to the kill count: “Don’t get caught out in public supporting Luna… Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it’s by herself.”
Luna has been endorsed by Donald Trump and describes herself as a “hybrid” of Sarah Palin and disgraced Representative Matt Gaetz (another Florida politician involved in a disturbing scandal). She won the Republican primary in the district in 2020 but lost to former Florida governor and incumbent Representative Charlie Crist, a Democrat, in the general by a 53-47% margin. Crist is vacating his seat in Congress to once again run for the governorship. That provides a potentially juicy special election opportunity for Luna and other Republicans to take back the district, which before Crist was elected in 2016 hadn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in 36 years.
As Politico noted, Olszewski herself is a shady character:
Olszewski, a nurse by training, became a conservative figure last year after penning a book called “Undercover Epicenter Nurse: How Fraud, Negligence, and Greed Led to Unnecessary Deaths at Elmhurst Hospital,” which some in the health care industry have called disinformation.
So this is all kind of a right-wing clusterfuck where everyone involved is some flavor of untrustworthy, but that’s Florida for you.
Braddock, who apparently did not consider the possibility he could be being recorded or that Olszewski might have been pressing him for more specifics for evidentiary purposes, explained on the phone that he would immediately send out the order if polls showed Luna in the lead.
“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 in the recorded call, pledging Olszewski to secrecy. “For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few. … 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 what would happen if “Luna is gonna win” and Braddock assured her that wouldn’t happen.
“She’s gonna be gone. Period. That’s the end of the discussion. Luna is not an issue,” he said.
Olszewski pushed him, asking “how do we make her go, though? I just don’t understand that.”
The voice identified as Braddock continued to clarify exactly on what timeline the killings would be carried out, how they would do it, and even what type of machine pistols would be used:
“I call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they’re sending me pictures of her disappearing,” Braddock said. “No, I’m not joking. Like, this is beyond my control this point... 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 another point in the call, Braddock clarified that he doesn’t “want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America” and that it would “break my heart,” Politico reports. He continued, “But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a fucking speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”
Wow! That sure is one heck of a plan. Anyone else want to explain how else they could do it better directly into this microphone-sized box in my right breast pocket? No? Didn’t think so. Let’s move on, because that’s not all of it.
Politico reached Braddock via text, because apparently just about anyone can get him to dig a hole deeper over the phone. He responded the recording is “allegedly me… there is no proof of that” and is “a dirty political tactic that has caused a lot of people a lot of stress and is completely unnecessary.”
Florida is a two-party consent state where recording a call without the other party’s permission is a third-degree felony, although Olszewski said police assured her she would not face charges for turning it in. Braddock threatened that whoever was in possession of or shared the recording would face civil suits over lack of consent, and he would also “file with the local police department” for “felony charges.”
“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 wrote 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.”
While Braddock appears to think this non-admission is very clever, one would think anyone who didn’t explain their plan to hire hitmen in-depth would recall not doing so and simply deny it. For example, I have never done that. As a lawyer, he should also remember that criminal charges aren’t offered on-demand at police stations.
Olszewski and Luna both received restraining orders against Braddock last week. In her request for the temporary stalking injunction, the Tampa Bay Times reported, Luna accused two additional Florida Republicans who failed to win seats in Congress in 2020, Matt Tito and Amanda Makki, of involvement. Makki lost a primary race against Luna in 2020; she told the Times that Luna was simply unable to handle running against another candidate and “exhibiting behavior that I would say is concerning.” Tito, who is considering running in the GOP primary against Luna, said the purpose of the injunction was to “embarrass us” and “keep us out of the race,” adding he barely knew Braddock and Makki. He suggested to local media he’s considering filing a defamation claim.
Braddock didn’t officially register his campaign until Monday, sometime after he would have been well aware the recording would become public.