Nov 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Florida GOP chair faces police investigation

Christian Ziegler attends a rally at the Hillsborough County Republican Party office in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Florida Republican Party Chair Christian Ziegler is the subject of a police investigation that reportedly involves an allegation of sexual battery.

The big picture: Nonprofit watchdog news site Florida Trident, citing sources close to the investigation, first reported that a woman alleged she was in a "longstanding consensual" sexual relationship with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget, before being "sexually battered" by Ziegler at her home, without his wife present.

Of note: After the Trident's story was published, Sarasota police released a heavily redacted incident report to Axios and other outlets. Ziegler's name doesn't appear in the redacted report, but it was provided in response to a request for records regarding the allegations against him.

  • It's an "active investigation," Cynthia McLaughlin, the department's spokesperson, tells Axios. No charges have been filed.
  • "Mr. Ziegler has been fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department," attorney Derek Byrd told Axios in an emailed statement. "We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated."

Catch up quick: The Zieglers are prominent political figures in Florida and allies of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Christian Ziegler took over as state GOP chairman in February after serving as a Sarasota County commissioner and years of conservative activism.
  • The governor appointed Bridget Ziegler to a board overseeing Disney World and endorsed her successful run for Sarasota School Board last year.
  • She is also a co-founder of Moms For Liberty.

Zoom in: The police report says an individual claimed to have been "sexually battered" at a Sarasota home in October. Most of the content in the reporting officer's narrative is obscured, leaving only a handful of words visible.

  • The accuser's name was redacted in the report.
  • Police seized Ziegler's phone, according to the Trident.

What they're saying: Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called for Ziegler to resign from his post immediately, given the "severity of the criminal allegations."

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