The influence of Donald Trump’s mob boss-style of governing has become an integral part of Republican politics in the wake of his failed presidency.
Perhaps no one incident proves that statement more than the news out of Florida — as revealed in a POLITICO article today — that a GOP congressional candidate in one of the state’s most competitive districts was secretly recorded threatening to send “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” to make a Republican primary opponent “disappear.”
Republican congressional hopeful William Braddock had not yet even declared his candidacy when he held a 30-minute call with Erin Olszewski, a local right-wing political activist, urging her to withhold her support for another candidate for the Tampa Bay-area congressional seat being abandoned by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), who is leaving Congress to run for Florida governor against Ron DeSantis.
During the call, Braddock repeatedly warned Olszewski to abandon any support for GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna in the primary, all while boasting of his willingness to hire assassins to make the problem with his electoral rival go away permanently.
“’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 at one point in the conversation last week, according to the recording exclusively obtained by POLITICO. ‘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,’” POLITICO writes.
“’I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians,’ he said about three minutes into the call, adding ‘don’t get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it’s by herself.’”
“I call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they’re sending me pictures of her disappearing,” he added later in the conversation. “No, I’m not joking. Like, this is beyond my control this point.”
Braddock later described his hit squad as being comprised of “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.”
When the website contacted Braddock via text for comment, the Florida man refused to confirm that he had uttered the threats about hiring “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” that the secret recording of the conversation captured.
While referring to the voice on the recording as “allegedly me,” Braddock insisted that “there is no proof of that” and suggested that the recording could have been “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 said, apparently unaware of the irony of his statement when compared to death threats.
Olszewski denied to POLITICO that she had altered or edited the recording of Braddock, made last Wednesday, in any way.
She insisted that she turned the recording over to St. Petersburg police and notified her friend Luna of Braddock’s comments “because she was concerned about Braddock’s ‘unhinged’ dislike of Luna.”
Both Luna and Olszewski have both subsequently obtained temporary restraining orders against Braddock who filed to run for the same congressional seat as Luna just this Monday.
Braddock apparently opposes Luna’s candidacy because he feels that his rival cannot win a seat that she had previously lost to Christ in the last election.
Now apparently voters in the Tampa Bay-area congressional district will have a choice between a known loser and an alleged extortionist, murder-plotter in the GOP primary next year.
Hopefully, they’ll sit the primary out and choose the Democratic candidate instead.
You can read POLITICO‘s full account of the story here.
Original reporting by Marc Caputo at POLITICO.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.