Gov. Ron DeSantis may want him gone, but the chairman of the Florida Republican Party isn’t going.
In an email Saturday to members of the party, Chris Ziegler communicated no plans to resign in the wake of a police report in which a complainant accuses him of sexual assault.
He thanks “all who have reached out in support,” calling it “humbling and frankly surprising to have so many people reach out in support by email, text and phone calls.”
“From Congressmen, state elected leaders, prominent social conservative leaders and county party leaders, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support that has been sent my way. It is impossible to fully understand how appreciative I am of those conversations,” the Sarasota Republican writes.
That said, he’s not offering much more in written form on this at this time.
“To protect the integrity of the investigation at this moment in the process, there is not much more outside of what I just shared and my lawyer’s statement at the bottom of this email that I can publicly share about this situation until the investigation is complete. When we reach that point, I will have a lot more to share about the facts, how this transpired, the motive and who was behind it.” Ziegler promises.
Ziegler’s damage control email comes as external sources are filling in the narrative.
The police investigation into allegations that state GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler raped a Sarasota woman started with a 911 call made by a friend worried about the alleged victim’s suicidal comments.
“She told me she was raped yesterday and that she’s scared to leave her house,” the unidentified friend on the tape tells the dispatcher.
The Trident reported Thursday that the alleged victim of the crime was involved in a long-running three-way tryst, involving Ziegler and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, also a prominent figure in the state’s political scene.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Bridget Ziegler to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which replaced the board that had control over the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. She was also part of a group that started Moms for Liberty in 2021. Calling themselves a parental rights group, their mission turned from lobbying against COVID-19 masking restrictions to stopping what they called “indoctrination” in schools involving LGBTQ issues. They had the Governor’s ear in targeting School Board members they thought should be ousted and drafting the Parental Rights in Education Law, which critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”
Christian Ziegler’s lawyer has stated he expects his client to be fully exonerated from the charges. But the allegations have prompted both Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried and DeSantis to call for Ziegler to resign from his position leading the state Republican Party.
DeSantis, a candidate for President, was asked by ABC News Thursday whether Ziegler should step down. The Governor did not hesitate in saying yes.
“I don’t see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those allegations,” DeSantis said.
Florida Politics writers Anne Geggis and Jacob Ogles contributed to this report.