Florida's Republican Party sacks Christian Ziegler after rape allegations

Christian Ziegler Florida GOP Conference Speaker
Christian Ziegler Florida GOP Conference Speaker
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The Republican Party of Florida formally removed Christian Ziegler as chairman more than a month after news broke he was under investigation for rape. But his wife, Moms for Liberty cofounder Bridget Ziegler, still holds on to her Sarasota County School Board seat.

The party’s state executive committee voted nearly unanimously to remove Christian Ziegler, weeks after the party’s executive board voted 39-0 to censure him and largely strip his authority. Noticing requirements delayed a vote on his formal removal before the New Year.

The loss of position will hit Ziegler financially. The party already had reduced his $120,000 annual salary to $1, and he’s now been fired altogether.

“I think we’re ready to move forward,” said Evan Power, who now succeeds Ziegler as state chair. "It’s good to have this chapter behind us. You know, the Republican Party of Florida is bigger than one person.”

But he also could still go to jail, and the scandal has torn down his political career after he spent years cultivating an image as a right-wing champion of family values.

A woman told police that Ziegler raped her October 2 in a Sarasota apartment. Ziegler admits to the sex but said it was consensual, and he provided police with a two-and-a-half minute video of the encounter that contradicted key details of the accuser’s account. But it’s also unclear the woman knew she was being filmed, which has opened him up to a potential video voyeurism charge.

Digital messages between the woman and Ziegler show she planned a sexual tryst with both Zieglers, but told Christian Ziegler not to come over when she learned Bridget Ziegler would not be present. Bridget Ziegler later admitted to detectives she had been part of a threesome with her husband and the woman more than a year prior to the October incident.

Both Zieglers have rebuffed any calls to resign their positions, though Bridget Ziegler is no longer employed by the Leadership Institute, a conservative think tank where she worked as director of school board programs.

Neither Ziegler attended the state party meeting where he was removed.

LGBTQ+ groups have derided the Zieglers as hypocrites and cheered his removal.

“Christian Ziegler, in addition to the appalling rape allegations against him, deployed disgusting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to fundraise and support candidates pushing even more discriminatory legislation that helps no one,” read a statement from GLAAD President and CEO Kate Ellis.

“Ziegler and his wife Bridget, a co-founder of the book banning group Moms for Liberty, used their power and platforms to unleash discriminatory policies and harmful anti-LGBTQ statements, leading an epidemic of shameful book bans and school censorship policies. Every American must use their voices and votes to speak out against extremist anti-LGBTQ agendas, hold every elected official and leader accountable for their words and behavior, and speak up for everyone’s fundamental freedoms.”