Murder conspiracy charges against GOP candidate in Florida court
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Claims by a Republican congressional candidate that another GOP hopeful plotted to kill her landed in a Florida courtroom Tuesday.
Anna Paulina Luna, who plans to run for the Florida District 13 seat after losing a 2020 slot race to Democratic Representative Charlie Crist, argues in court documents that GOP challenger William Braddock is stalking her and wants her dead . Luna filed a motion for a permanent restraining order. Pinellas County Circuit Judge Doneene Loar previously granted a temporary injunction to Luna and a conservative activist and friend of hers, Erin Olszewski, after the allegations surfaced.
In court Tuesday, Braddock, who has already filed for a GOP candidate, told a judge he opposed the injunction and wanted to “get, consider and validate” any evidence against him. He did not directly address the charges, but has denied them in the past and called them politically motivated.
“I don’t know what they have,” he told the court.
Loar agreed to delay the hearing until July 9 to allow the two sides to exchange evidence. She said the temporary restraining orders against Braddock and Olszewski will remain in effect, and she warned him not to violate them.
In her petition, Luna claims that she recently received text messages between Braddock and some associates in which he allegedly said he wanted to “get me out (Luna)”. She also said that others told her “it means he intends to kill me”.
“I do not feel safe and fear for my life right now from Mr Braddock,” Luna said in her petition.
Olszewski did not respond to phone calls and emails from the PA. Her lawyer, Katherine Yanes, said in an email Tuesday that she was happy with the judge’s decision to keep the injunction in place, but made no further comment.
In 2020, Luna lost by around 24,600 votes to the much better known Crist in the District 13 congressional race in Pinellas County. Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida who has held several other high-level positions, is running for governor in 2022 as a Democrat.
A large number of candidates are running for the district, which could be critical in determining which party controls the United States House after next year’s election.
Other contenders include Democratic State Representatives Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner. More candidates are expected to join the campaign.