TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, made it clear on Saturday that he has no intention of stepping down from his leadership position amidst an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual battery that occurred in Sarasota back in October. In an email addressed to party members, Ziegler dismissed the accusations as “false,” although he admitted to being somewhat limited in his ability to provide further details. Ziegler also expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of his wife, Bridget, and assured everyone that their children were being protected, just as they had done in the face of previous attacks.
“I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put our mission on hold as I await the conclusion of this process,” wrote Christian Ziegler in the email to party members, emphasizing the importance of their shared goal to save the country.
Ziegler’s statement came just two days after Governor Ron DeSantis expressed his belief that the chairman should step down while the investigation is ongoing. The complaint, which was first reported by the Florida Trident, a division of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, remains heavily redacted, providing minimal details about the alleged incident that occurred on October 2nd, with the complaint itself being filed on October 4th.
Despite the seriousness of the allegations, Ziegler has not yet been charged. In his email, he stated, “To my knowledge, my involvement in this investigation is complete, and now I must wait for law enforcement to finalize the police report. Hopefully, this will happen soon.”
Derek Byrd, an attorney representing Ziegler, released a statement on Thursday acknowledging the existence of the complaint. Byrd expressed confidence that once the police investigation concludes, no charges will be filed, and Ziegler will be fully exonerated. He also acknowledged the unfortunate reality that public figures often face baseless accusations for political or financial gain.
Ziegler’s email to party members included Byrd’s statement, emphasizing their belief in his innocence. The chairman, who secured his position with the support of former President Donald Trump’s followers, triumphing over party Vice Chairman Evan Power, who had the backing of DeSantis supporters, is currently caught in the midst of the battle for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination between Trump and DeSantis.
Governor DeSantis, in response to the serious nature of the complaint, called for Ziegler to step aside as chairman, stating during a news conference after a debate with California Governor Gavin Newsom, “I don’t see how we can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of the situation. I think he should step aside and tend to that. He’s innocent until proven guilty. But we just can’t have a party chair under that type of scrutiny. And so I hope the charges aren’t true.”
While acknowledging his friendship with Ziegler and his wife, DeSantis emphasized that the mission at hand was of utmost importance. The Florida Trident report alleges that Ziegler and his wife engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with the woman who filed the complaint over a period of three years. Bridget Ziegler, a member of the Sarasota County School Board and appointed by DeSantis to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors, is not implicated in the complaint.
In his email on Saturday, Christian Ziegler attributed the leaks and selective information being reported to a “liberal media outlet.” He expressed frustration at not being able to publicly counter these narratives or share his side of the story, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation as the reason for his silence.