Florida Republican Party Chair Under Investigation for Alleged Sexual Assault – Christian Ziegler, the chairman of Florida’s Republican party, is allegedly being investigated for sexual battery, a development that could have significant political implications in a state where Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis have strong ties.
Police documents, heavily redacted, indicate Ziegler’s involvement in an ongoing criminal investigation following an individual’s report of being sexually assaulted at their Sarasota home on October 2nd. The detective’s report mentions a “sexual assault allegation” and “sexual assault complaint” but almost no other information.
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Derek Byrd, an attorney for the Republican party chairman, said he was confident his client “will be completely exonerated” and said he had been “fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota police department”. “Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit whether it be for political purposes or financial gain,” Byrd added.
“I would caution anyone not to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded. Out of respect for the investigation, this is all Mr Ziegler or myself can say at this time.” Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, said in a statement that Ziegler should resign. “He’s innocent till proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny,” DeSantis said. “The mission is more important.”
The police report containing the allegations was first brought to light by Florida Center for Government Accountability’s Florida Trident publication, which says police seized Ziegler’s cellphone and “investigators continue to conduct a forensic examination of the electronic device”, citing only anonymous sources.
Sources told the publication that the woman accusing Ziegler “alleged that she and both Zieglers had been involved in a longstanding consensual three-way sexual relationship prior to the incident” and that the incident occurred when Ziegler and the woman were alone at the woman’s house.
The Republican party of Sarasota county issued a statement saying the party was “shocked and disappointed” by the reports, adding that it “takes all such allegations of potential criminal conduct very seriously and will fully cooperate with investigators”. The accusations arise at a time when Florida Republicans are gearing up for the upcoming presidential election in the next year.
Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate vying for the nomination, faces challenges in gaining momentum against the expected nominee and Florida resident, Donald Trump. Ziegler, a former Sarasota county commissioner, assumed the role of state Republican party chairman in February. His spouse, Bridget Ziegler, is a co-founder of Moms for Liberty (M4L), an organization advocating parental rights.