Rep. Anna Paulina Luna came to Congress on her first day in office ready to do battle—not just with Democrats, but also with her own party, as she became one of the 20 Republicans to vote against electing Kevin McCarthy speaker.
But back home in her conservative Florida district, Luna is waging a very different kind of war: a legal fight with political enemies who say she is a literal witch.
A letter obtained by The Daily Beast reveals that the Florida Republican retained the high-powered law firm Holland & Knight to go after a would-be rival who leveled a series of outlandish allegations against Luna on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show in the fall.
The letter demands that Matt Tito, a pal of Roger Stone who mulled challenging Luna in a primary, apologize on video for his accusations, which include claims that Luna was fired from a job—and that she had a sexual liaison with Rep. Matt Gaetz.
“While it is extraordinarily odd for any person to say these things, let alone a former Captain in the United States Marine Corps., that is not the purpose of this communication,” attorney David J. Lisko wrote in the Oct. 7 missive.
“I am sending you this letter because of the defamatory statements you made about Ms. Luna on the Show,” Lisko wrote, adding that Tito knew his comments were untrue or were “said in gross negligence knowing the statements were highly implausible and unlikely to be true.”
“You said that Ms. Luna (a devout Christian) practices witchcraft,” Lisko added.
“You are hereby demanded to publicly and immediately retract each and every defamatory statement you made about Ms. Luna on the show,” Lisko continued. “Because you do not have the ability to distribute your retraction widely on your social media, you are demanded to apologize and retract your statements on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show or by making a retraction and apology video that you send to me that Ms. Luna will distribute via her social media.”
On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Luna was reluctant to address the spat beyond dismissing the allegations.
“Obviously not, I’m not doing any comments,” she told The Daily Beast when asked about Tito’s comments about witchcraft and Gaetz. “That’s not true.” She later tweeted that the questions amounted to sexual harassment.
But Tito said he isn’t backing down from any of his claims about the former MAGA influencer—who once accused him of conspiring with another candidate to kill her during the campaign, which he denied.
“I didn’t wake up one morning when I was going on the Bubba the Love Sponge show and say I am going to pull a bunch of stuff out of my ass and talk about it,” Tito told The Daily Beast.
Tito said he has not responded to the legal letter but that he consulted with a lawyer after he was served with the demand. He said that when he got the letter three weeks before the primary, he wondered, “Why is she trying to intimidate me and scare me?”
Tito claimed he learned about Luna’s purported background from other MAGA figures.
According to Tito, Hispanics for Trump associate Paloma Zuniga said that “Luna practices witchcraft.”
“That is where I heard that from,” Tito said. “She puts spells on people.”
Another failed California Republican congressional hopeful, Omar Navarro, suggested the unsubstantiated rumors must be accurate because so many people were repeating them.
“It has got to be true to a certain extent,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s fair enough to say that it’s spread among people in the Republican Party.”
As for Gaetz, a spokesperson insisted to The Daily Beast that the sexual encounter allegations were part of “lies” being spread due to Luna “leading the fight alongside 20 members who know America deserves better than Kevin McCarthy.”
“These rumors have no basis in fact whatsoever,” the spokesperson added.
Lisko and Zuniga did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.