CLEARWATER, Fla. - The dramatic legal battle between Republican congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna and her former primary opponent, William Braddock, has come to an end. It's a political rivalry that quickly turned personal, devolving into accusations of threats and stalking.
Attorneys in the months-long legal battle squared off in court with their final arguments after a circuit court judge last Tuesday issued a continuance in the case. Back in June, Luna was granted a temporary stalking injunction against Braddock but now wants to make it permanent.
In a secretly recorded call released by investigators, Braddock is heard attacking Luna, saying he has a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad ready to take her out. He dropped out of the race in July, but Luna says she still fears for her life.
The 30-minute taped call was between Braddock and conservative activist Erin Olszwski, who also filed a restraining order against him.
"I call up my Russian Ukraine hit squad and in 24 hours they send me pictures of her disappearing," Braddock says in the recording.
"My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary and if the poll says Luna is going to win, she's going to be gone. She's going to disappear," he told Olszwski. "And you cannot tell anybody that. For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few."
During testimony on September 14, Olzwski told the court that she began recording the call when she realized the seriousness of the threats.
"I actually interpreted it as a really great threat at that time as well. Without him saying it word for word, the way that he was saying it, the tone he was saying it, the words he was using, the language was all indicative of more than just beating somebody in a political run for Congress."
Braddock had suggested that he was also working with two political rivals on the hit job. However, St. Pete police looked into all of the allegations and found no probable cause to arrest anyone.
After final arguments Friday, the judge denied Luna’s request for a permanent injunction against Braddock.
The judge said that Braddock's actions were highly offensive, but she has to follow the law.
Luna is running for the 13th congressional seat left open by representative Charlie Crist in his run for governor. She said during her testimony that the stress from the threats and the injunction are affecting her career and physical health.