Florida GOP suspends chairman and demands his resignation amid rape investigation

TALAHASSEE, Fla. — The Republican Party of Florida suspended Chairman Christian Ziegler and demanded his resignation during an emergency meeting Sunday, adding to calls from Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top officials for him to resign while police investigate a rape allegation against him.

Ziegler is accused of raping a woman with whom he and his wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, previously had a consensual sexual relationship, police records show.

“Christian Ziegler has engaged in conduct that makes him unfit for office,” the party's motion to censure Ziegler said, according to a document posted on social media platform X by Republican Party Chairman Michael Thomason of Lee County.

Ziegler tried to defend himself behind closed doors during the meeting, but the party leadership quickly took action against him, Thompson said.

“Ziegler on soapbox trying to defend himself but not working,” Thompson posted before certifying the votes.

The party's executive committee will vote again in the future on whether Ziegler should be ousted.

Sarasota police are investigating the woman's allegation that Ziegler raped her in her apartment in October. According to police documents, the Zieglers and the woman had planned a sexual threesome that day, but Bridget Ziegler couldn't make it. Prosecutors say Christian Ziegler arrived anyway and attacked her.

Christian Ziegler has not been charged with a crime and says he is innocent. He claims the meeting was consensual.

The accusation has also unsettled Bridget Ziegler, an elected member of the Sarasota School Board, although she has not been accused of any crime. On Tuesday, the board voted to ask her to resign. She refused.

The couple are outspoken opponents of LGBTQ+ rights, and their relationship with another woman has led to criticism and accusations of hypocrisy.

In addition to DeSantis, Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz and the leaders of the Florida Republican House and Senate have all called for Christian Ziegler's resignation.