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Florida Republican Party ousts Christian Ziegler as chairman after rape allegation

In World
January 09, 2024

The Republican Party of Florida on Monday removed Christian Ziegler as its chairman as he faces allegations of rape and video voyeurism.

The vote, which came during an emergency meeting in Tallahassee, was largely expected after the Sarasota Police Department’s rape investigation into him became public last month. The party selected Evan Power, its former vice chairman, to serve as the new chairman. Power had the support of most prominent Florida Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ziegler was not in attendance for the vote.

“Congratulations to our new Chairman, @EvanPower,” the party posted on X. “Under his strong leadership, we will Keep Florida RED, deliver Florida’s 30 electoral votes to the GOP presidential candidate, and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Let’s get to work!”

Four sources in the room said that there were very few people who expressed support for Ziegler remaining as chair, thought it’s unclear the exact number because it was a voice vote.

“I believe it was almost unanimous vote to remove Christian Ziegler, which I believe is the absolute right thing to do,” a source told NBC News. “And I want to reiterate that we are spending a lot of time and energy on this, on this meeting instead of focusing on the things we need to focus on, and that’s simply because Christian Ziegler did not do the right thing and resign.”

Ziegler is facing allegations, which were first reported by the Florida Center for Government Accountability, that he raped a Sarasota woman he and his wife, Bridget, had known for 20 years and with whom they had had past sexual encounters.

Before an early October encounter, Bridget said she could not attend and the woman canceled. Christian, however, still showed up at her apartment and raped her, according to court records.

Ziegler has maintained his innocence and refused to step down as Florida GOP chair, which prompted Monday’s emergency meeting.

Power, the new chairman, lost his race against Ziegler during the 2023 race, but in recent weeks the party’s biggest names endorsed him to take over. The only other candidate was Republican National Committeeman Peter Faeman.

Along with rape allegations, the Sarasota County Police Department expanded its investigation last week into whether Ziegler illegally filmed a sexual encounter with the woman, according to a search warrant affidavit a judge approved Dec. 8 that sought access to Ziegler’s social media messages.

The woman told police, according to the affidavit, that she did not consent to Christian Ziegler recording the encounter.

The investigation has gotten national attention because both Christian and Bridget are prominent Florida Republicans. Bridget is a co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a nationwide group that tries to get conservative women elected to local school boards.

Bridget is not accused of any legal wrongdoing, but she has faced critics who say she is a hypocrite for focusing on conservative policy issues that in many cases center on passing anti-LGBTQ laws.

Most notably, Bridget has publicly taken credit for helping write a DeSantis-championed bill that prevented the discussion of gender identity or sexual preference in classrooms up to third grade. Supporters said it was about empowering parents, while opponents dubbed it the “don’t say gay” bill.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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