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Florida Democratic Party Calls for GOP Chair's Resignation After Report of Sexual Assault Claim

Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried said the "level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning."
Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried said    Christian Ziegler "can't possibly" continue to lead the Florida Republican Party while allegedly under criminal investigation.
Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried said Christian Ziegler "can't possibly" continue to lead the Florida Republican Party while allegedly under criminal investigation. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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The Florida Democratic Party is calling on Republican Party of Florida chairman Christian Ziegler to resign following a report that he is under investigation over a sexual assault claim.

"Allegations of rape and sexual battery are severe and should be taken seriously,” Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried said in a media release. "I applaud the accuser’s bravery in coming forward against a political figure as powerful as Christian Ziegler, and I trust that the Sarasota Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations of criminal behavior."

As first reported by the Florida Center for Government Accountability, a heavily redacted Sarasota police report dated October 4 appears to document the sexual assault claim. Nearly every line in the police report is blacked out, though the words "rape" and "sexual assault" are not.

In a statement, Ziegler’s lawyer Derek Byrd said Ziegler has been "fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department." Byrd said he believes Ziegler "will be completely exonerated" once the investigation is complete.

"Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit, whether it be for political purposes or financial gain. I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded,” Byrd said.
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A screenshot from a heavily redacted October 4, 2023, Sarasota police report that is said to document a sexual assault claim against Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida Republican Party.
Sarasota Police Department
Ziegler and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, are prominent figures in local and state GOP politics. Ziegler runs a consulting firm and was a vocal supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis' reelection campaign. Bridget, who has served on the Sarasota County School Board since 2014, is a co-founder of the far-right parent-activist group Moms for Liberty, which has led a nationwide culture-war crusade against critical race theory and school books that its members deem inappropriate. The group has been a driving force behind book bans in school districts across Florida.

"As for the more salacious allegations — what happens behind closed doors is Christian and Bridget’s personal business," Fried said referencing additional claims, reported by the Florida Center for Government Accountability that asserted the Zieglers at one point had a consensual sexual relationship with the alleged victim. "That being said, I do find it interesting that two people who are so obsessed with banning books about gay penguins might be engaged in a non-traditional sexual relationship."

"As leaders in the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty, the Zieglers have made a habit out of attacking anything they perceive as going against 'family values' — be it reproductive rights or the existence of LGBTQ+ Floridians," Fried said. "The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning."

As previously reported by New Times, Christian Ziegler found himself under fire earlier this year after he called for a police raid of a Florida drag show. While some social media users took his comment as an incitement to violence, the Republican leader maintained he was not encouraging drag show detractors to take  up arms.
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