Updated Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Florida senator calls on state GOP chair to resign amid sexual battery probe

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) suggested that Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler should resign following allegations of sexual battery. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called on Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler to step down from his post on Tuesday amid allegations of sexual battery.

The big picture: Ziegler, an ally of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has denied the allegations and so far rejected resignation calls.

  • Last week, DeSantis also called on Ziegler to resign, saying he did not "see how [Ziegler] can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations" and that he thinks Ziegler "should step aside."
  • Over the weekend, State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner also called on Ziegler to step down.

What they're saying: "I'm very concerned about the reports I've read. The allegations are very disturbing," Scott said in a statement shared with Axios.

  • "Everyone deserves their day in court and Christian and Bridget have been friends of mine throughout my career," Scott said, referring to Ziegler and his wife Bridget Ziegler, a Moms for Liberty co-founder.
  • "I don't see how Christian can continue to successfully act as Chairman while this cloud hovers over him. I'm praying for everyone involved in this," Scott added.
  • Scott said the GOP "has a very important decision before it, and the decision has to be made on what is best for winning elections in 2024."

Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, told Axios in an emailed statement Tuesday that Ziegler "can not comment on an on-going criminal investigation" and that "once [the] investigation is over, he and myself will both be able to speak."

  • Byrd previously told Axios, via an emailed statement, that "[w]e 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 Sarasota Police Department is investigating Ziegler for allegations of sexual battery, according to a search warrant affidavit shared with Axios by the Florida Trident, Axios' Yacob Reyes reports.

  • The accuser told police in October that she had a long-term sexual relationship with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget, before being "sexually assaulted" by Ziegler at her home without his wife present.

What's next: Florida's GOP vice chair called for a special meeting later this month where the party's executive board members are expected to vote on Ziegler's future, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Go deeper: DeSantis urges Florida GOP chair to resign after sexual battery allegation

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