Jan 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Florida GOP ousts Ziegler as chair over sexual battery allegation

Ziegler addresses attendees at the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee.

Ziegler addresses attendees at the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Republican Party of Florida's executive committee, under mounting pressure, voted on Monday to oust embattled Chairman Christian Ziegler, according to reports.

Why it matters: The move comes over a month after news surfaced that Ziegler is the subject of an "active investigation" into a sexual battery allegation made by a woman who said she'd been in a sexual relationship with him and his wife, Bridget Ziegler.

  • Monday's vote was "overwhelmingly in favor" of removing Ziegler, with only a "handful" in opposition, Politico's Gary Fineout reported.
  • Ziegler resisted calls from Republican officials — including Gov. Ron DeSantis, state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and state House Speaker Paul Renner — to resign over the Sarasota investigation.
  • He denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.
  • Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of Moms for Liberty, has also resisted calls to resign as a member of the Sarasota School Board.

Between the lines: The coordinated stance from top Republican officials in Florida reflects growing concern within the party over the allegations against Ziegler and potential damage to the party's reputation.

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.

  • The accuser told police in October that she had a sexual relationship with Ziegler and his wife before being sexually assaulted by Ziegler at her home without his wife present.
  • In an interview with detectives, Ziegler said he had "consensual sex with the victim" and recorded the encounter. Police are also reportedly investigating whether he violated the state's video voyeurism laws.
  • Florida's Republican Party suspended Ziegler in December, saying he "engaged in conduct that renders him unfit for the office." They voted to slash his salary and strip him of most of his duties as chairman.

What's next: Evan Power, the vice chair who assumed most of Ziegler's duties when he was suspended, was chosen to replace Ziegler as chair.

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