Rape-accused Florida GOP chair is suspended and has salary cut to $1

The process of removing Christian Ziegler as chair following accusations of rape and sexual assault made against him began on Sunday

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Monday 18 December 2023 11:49 GMT
Public calls for Bridget Ziegler to resign

The Florida Republican Party has begun the process of removing its chair Christian Ziegler following accusations of rape and sexual assault.

Mr Ziegler has been accused of raping a woman whom he and his wife, the co-founder of right-wing “parent’s rights” group Moms for Liberty, were reportedly in a long-term consensual relationship with, in October.

Since the allegations surfaced, he has been facing calls to resign from members of his own party, including from Florida Governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and Representative Matt Gaetz.

The process of removing Mr Ziegler began with an emergency meeting of the party’s executive board on Sunday, where they voted to censure him, strip his authority and reduce his salary to a meagre $1.

The board also voted to hold a meeting of the party’s full governing body on 8 January in Tallahassee, when a vote is expected to remove him formally, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Christian Ziegler with former president Donald Trump (Orlando Sentinel)

“We asked him to resign immediately; he has still not resigned,” Florida GOP Vice Chair Evan Power told the outlet.

“So we wait. We’re calling a special meeting ... to elect a new chairman and remove him formally from office.”

During Sunday’s committee meeting, Mr Ziegler attempted to defend himself, but failed, according to Lee County GOP chairman Michael Thompson.

His speech was followed by motions to reduce his salary to $1; strip him of his authority and powers; no longer approve expense reimbursements; and censure him, as his fellow Republicans argued that he has lost the party’s confidence.

“Christian Ziegler has engaged in conduct that renders him unfit for the office of Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and leader of the Florida GOP,” the censure motion read, according to a photo of the motion posted by Mr Thompson on X.

Bridget Ziegler (REUTERS)

The motion also said that Mr Ziegler “has not been forthright and honest with the members of the Republican Party of Florida”.

According to a search warrant affidavit shared with The Independent, Mr Ziegler came to the woman’s home without his wife on 2 October.

He allegedly forced his way into her apartment and raped her when she refused to have sex without his wife present, according to the affidavit.

The document also alleges that Mr Ziegler told detectives the sexual encounter was consensual and that he had filmed it but then deleted the footage when the allegations of rape and sexual battery surfaced.

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