Florida GOP chair says prurient sex and rape allegations won't force him out

Republicans are calling on Christian Ziegler, half of a Florida GOP power couple, to step down after a police report revealed a sexual battery allegation and a consensual threesome

Christian Ziegler
Christian Ziegler
(Image credit: Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

The chair of the Florida Republican Party, Christian Zielger, denied allegations that he raped a woman in October and said he will not resign, but the details that have emerged prompted other Florida GOP leaders to call on him to step down. The Sarasota Police Department is investigating the rape allegation and Ziegler has not been charged.

Ziegler and his wife, Bridget, "were seen as a rising power couple in the state, second only to Ron and Casey DeSantis in their visibility and influence," The Washington Post reported. Brigit Ziegler is a cofounder of the conservative group Moms for Liberty and a member of the Sarasota County school board and DeSantis' handpicked oversight board for Disney World's administrative district. 

Text messages and police interviews revealed that the woman and the Zieglers had a three-way sexual encounter — the woman and Bridget Ziegler said it happened over a year ago — and had set up another threesome on Oct. 2, but Bridget Zielger canceled, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained through a public records request by the nonprofit Florida Center for Government Accountability

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Christian Ziegler said he and the woman, who has known for 20 years, had consensual sex on Oct. 2, but the woman said he came by her apartment uninvited and raped her. When Ziegler had texted her that his wife could no longer make it, she wrote back, "Sorry I was mostly in it for her," the affidavit said. Police are trying to obtain video Ziegler said he took of the sex act.

Ziegler said in a Saturday email to the Florida Republican Party that he's "not going to let false allegations of a crime" force him out, and "my wife is behind me 150%."

DeSantis said Thursday night, when a heavily redacted version of the police report was made public, that Ziegler "should step aside" because "we just can't have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny."

The apparent "stunning level of hypocrisy" is the most salient issue, University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett told the Post. "Even if the rape sexual assault charge ends up either not true or unable to be proven, I think for a lot of Republicans, they would just be uncomfortable with the fact that you have people who are pushing a social conservative agenda saying there's too much sex in society, particularly LGBTQ sex, but yet have engaged in, well, a threesome."

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