The Republican Party of Florida suspended Chairman Christian Ziegler and demanded his resignation during an emergency meeting Sunday, adding to calls by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top officials for him to step down as police investigate a rape accusation against him.
Ziegler is accused of raping a woman with whom he and his wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, had a prior consensual sexual relationship, according to police records.
State Rep. Vicki Lopez, a Republican whose district includes Key Biscayne, said the state GOP shouldn’t have been put in a position to suspend Ziegler. He should have resigned and saved the executive board the trouble of having to meet to decide his fate, she said.
“I feel strongly that when the board meets again he will be officially removed,” Lopez said Sunday. “This situation has only served as a needless distraction. I’ll be happy when this scandal is behind us and we can focus on the many important issues facing Floridians.”
Ziegler tried to defend himself during the closed-door meeting, but the party board quickly took the action against him, Thompson said.
“Christian Ziegler has engaged in conduct that renders him unfit for the office,” the party’s motion to censure Ziegler said, according to a document posted on the social media platform X by Lee County GOP Chairman Michael Thomason.
“Ziegler on soap box trying to defend himself, not working,” Thompson posted before confirming the votes.
The party’s executive committee will hold another vote in the future on whether to remove Ziegler.
The Sarasota Police Department is investigating the woman’s accusation that Ziegler raped her at her apartment in October. Police documents say the Zieglers and the woman had planned a sexual threesome that day, but Bridget Ziegler was unable to make it. The accuser says Christian Ziegler arrived anyway and assaulted her.
Christian Ziegler has not been charged with a crime and says he is innocent, contending the encounter was consensual.
The accusation also has caused turmoil for Bridget Ziegler, an elected member of the Sarasota School Board, though she is not accused of any crime. On Tuesday the board voted to ask her to resign. She refused.
In addition to DeSantis, Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and Florida’s Republican House and Senate leaders have all called for Christian Ziegler’s resignation
The couple have been outspoken opponents of LGBTQ+ rights, and their relationship with another woman has sparked criticism and accusations of hypocrisy.
“Gov. DeSantis needs to reach down from Tallahassee and remove Bridget Ziegler from the Sarastosa School Board immediately or he is a bigger hypocrite than she is,” said Jacqueline Kellogg, president of the Key Biscayne Dems.
John Pacenti, executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent, contributed to this story.