Florida GOP chair accused of sexual battery; attorney says he’ll be exonerated

Sarasota Police Department investigates a sexual assault allegation made against Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler. This is a political bombshell for the state where former President Donald Trump, and Governor Rick Scott live. Ron DeSantis.

The USA TODAY Network-Florida requested documents from Sarasota Police Department that mentioned Ziegler. The agency provided heavily redacted reports by an officer who responded initially to the complaint and a Detective. Records note that this case is “under active criminal investigation.”

In the detective’s report, it is stated that this individual claimed to have been “sexually abused” at her home in Sarasota. This occurred on October 2. The report mentions “sexual assault allegations” and “sexual abuse complaint”, but does not have any other information.

The response officer’s synopsis is also almost completely redacted. The narrative is only five words. The words are: “stated… that… raped”

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Derek Byrd is Ziegler’s attorney. He said that he was confident in his client’s “complete exoneration” and that he had “fully cooperated with all requests made by the Sarasota Police Department.”

Byrd stated, “Unfortunately public figures are accused of crimes they didn’t commit for either political or financial reasons.” I would warn anyone not to make a judgment before the investigation has been completed. “Out of respect for the investigation and myself, Mr. Ziegler can only say this at this time.”

Trident, a publication of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, was the first to report on Ziegler’s allegations.

Citing anonymous sources involved in the investigation, government watchdog group claims that police have seized Ziegler’s cell phone. “Investigators are continuing to conduct a thorough forensic examination of this electronic device.”

Ziegler has emerged as one the most prominent political couple in Florida in recent times, along with his wife Bridget Ziegler. She is a Sarasota County school board member and the founder of Moms for Liberty.

Christian Ziegler, a former Sarasota County commissioner and currently GOP State Committeeman in Sarasota County took over the Florida GOP after years of grassroots GOP activity.

Trident sources reported that the woman who accused Christian Ziegler was sexually abused “said that she, both Zieglers and her had been in a long-standing consensual relationship before the incident”. The incident took place when Christian Ziegler met the woman alone at her home.

These allegations will reverberate throughout Florida’s political landscape and throw the Florida GOP in turmoil as it prepares for the election of 2024.

The Republican Party of Sarasota, where the Zieglers were active for many years, released a statement expressing shock and disappointment at the reports.

The Republican Party will take all allegations of criminal conduct seriously and fully cooperate with the investigators.

Ziegler’s position is of particular importance because both Trump and DeSantis are Florida men who are involved in their state party.

A Ziegler legal investigation could hinder the Florida GOP in its preparations for an upcoming election, where Florida could again be a major presidential prize and will also feature a competitive U.S. Senate contest.

After DeSantis’ dominant reelection win last year, the Florida GOP is on fire. The registration of Republicans has outpaced that of Democrats.

A sexual scandal involving one of the leading figures in the GOP could be a major distraction and damage its image, especially at a moment when the GOP is pushing culturally conservative policies that are centered around moral values.

Bridget Ziegler led this charge by her work for Moms for Liberty (which she no longer is involved with) and in implementing DeSantis’ education agenda which has focused on LGBTQ and racial concerns.

Bridget Zeigler accompanied DeSantis to sign the legislation that critics called the “Don’t Say Gay bill”. She was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the board of a special district overseeing Disney’s properties throughout Central Florida. Disney and DeSantis are at odds over the company’s response to “Don’t Say Gay”.

A request for comments was not responded to by the campaign and governor’s offices.

Moms for Liberty issued a statement defending Bridget Ziegler.

The group wrote on X: “Yet again today, an attempt to ruin the reputation a strong female fighting for America.”

Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called for Christian Ziegler’s resignation from the Florida GOP. She also took aim at Christian Ziegler and his wife.

Fried stated that “as leaders of the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty the Zieglers make it a habit to attack anything they perceive is going against ‘family value’ – be it reproductive rights, or the existence LGBTQ+ Floridians.” The hypocrisy of this situation is shocking.

In a press release, the Republican Party of Florida stated that it would not be commenting on any ongoing investigations.

Michael Thompson, Lee County GOP chair, said that he does not believe the accusations against Ziegler. He also believes that Ziegler should remain as chairman until the allegations have been proven to be true.

Thompson stated, “If these allegations are true, I am pretty certain that the RPOF will undergo a change. However, I do not believe them for a second.” “Christian is the chairman. Christian is still the chairman until something happens. “We don’t expect Christian to leave as chair.”

Thompson told reporters that he had spoken to two other chairmen of the party on Thursday, who shared his views.

“Innocent until proven guilty,” Thompson said. It’s time to restore justice to our system, and it’s true for everyone, not only for Ziegler, but for Trump as well. Let’s stop trying to convict in the headlines. Let’s look at the evidence.”

It was speculated that Ed Brodsky would step down as the Republican State Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which covers Sarasota and Manatee counties, if Ziegler’s case went forward.

Brodsky stated on Thursday that, at this time, he does not see any conflict of interest that would warrant his recusal. He is acquainted with Ziegler in political circles, but the two do not socialize outside of their respective roles.

“I do not see any conflict of interest that would prevent me from performing my duties, but no formal charges have been filed or recommended. We will certainly review to determine if there are any.