Police investigating Florida Republican Get together chair over alleged sexual assault

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By Calvin S. Nelson

MIAMI — The Sarasota Police Division is investigating Florida Republican Get together Chair Christian Ziegler, whose spouse co-founded the conservative mother and father group Mothers for Liberty, following allegations of sexual assault.

In keeping with a closely redacted police report obtained by POLITICO by a public data request, the alleged incident befell on Oct. 2 at a house in Sarasota and the sufferer filed a criticism two days later. The paperwork omit particulars in regards to the sufferer’s assertion to authorities however embody the phrases “rape” and “sexually battered.”

The Florida Trident, the information platform for the open authorities watchdog Florida Middle for Authorities Accountability, was first to report on the information.

Ziegler, by his legal professional, acknowledged the police had been investigating him and mentioned he’d been “totally cooperative with each request made by the Sarasota Police Division.”

“We’re assured that after the police investigation is concluded that no expenses will likely be filed and Mr. Ziegler will likely be fully exonerated,” his legal professional, Derek Byrd, mentioned in a press release. “Sadly, public figures are sometimes accused of acts that they didn’t commit whether or not it’s for political functions or monetary acquire. I’d warning anybody to hurry to judgment till the investigation is concluded.”

Ziegler is married to Bridget Ziegler, a faculty board member in Sarasota County and Mothers for Liberty co-founder. The group has risen to prominence in Florida below the DeSantis administration, which emphasizes rooting out any traces of liberal “indoctrination” — significantly on the problems of sexual orientation, gender identification and race.

Bridget Ziegler didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The Trident article quotes nameless sources who say the Zieglers had been in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with the sufferer however that Bridget Ziegler wasn’t there when the alleged sexual assault occurred. POLITICO was not instantly capable of substantiate the claims.

Mothers for Liberty on Thursday indicated that it was standing by Bridget Ziegler in a press release on X, which mentioned the story was an “try to wreck the status of a robust girl preventing for America.” The group later eliminated the social media publish.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and different prime leaders, together with Schooling Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., met with Mothers for Liberty this yr to plot out native college board candidates to oppose in 2024, following up on scores of endorsements and nominations within the 2022 cycle. Mothers for Liberty has a rising nationwide presence, with near 300 chapters, whereas reporting greater than $2 million in income for 2022.

DeSantis additionally appointed Bridget Ziegler to be one of many chairs for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the governing board that DeSantis tapped to supervise the district surrounding Walt Disney World after a heated combat about LGBTQ+ matters in public faculties.

Information of the alleged incident broke simply hours earlier than DeSantis was set to seem in a extremely marketed debate on Fox Information towards Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who has criticized DeSantis for his insurance policies on faculties.

The Republican Get together of Sarasota County mentioned in a press release that it was “shocked and upset” in regards to the reviews concerning the Zieglers.

“We’re shocked and upset to listen to of the reviews regarding Republican Get together of Florida Chair and Sarasota County State Committeeman Christian Ziegler, and his spouse, Sarasota County College Board Member Bridget Ziegler,” mentioned the group’s chairman, Jack Brill. “The Republican Get together takes all such allegations of potential felony conduct very severely and can totally cooperate with investigators.”

Nikki Fried, who chairs the Democratic Get together of Florida, mentioned the accusations towards Ziegler “ought to be taken severely” and known as on him to right away resign.

5 members of the Republican Get together of Florida informed POLITICO they’d seen the allegations in information tales however hadn’t heard from celebration leaders straight.

In a textual content to POLITICO, Ziegler mentioned he’s nonetheless the top of the GOP in Florida.

Ziegler just lately attended an occasion at Mar-a-Lago that former President Donald Trump hosted to honor Republican Get together of Florida county leaders. He additionally organized a “Freedom Summit” fundraiser in Kissimmee, Fla., the place each Trump and DeSantis spoke.

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