Matt Gaetz says ‘wait for the facts’ amid Christian Ziegler rape accusations
Matt Gaetz, Christian Ziegler.

Gaetz Ziegler
The Panhandle Congressman knows something about surviving sex scandals.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz won’t join calls for Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler to resign.

“Given my experience I tend to wait for the facts to come out before rendering judgment,” the Fort Walton Beach Republican told Florida Politics.

A Sarasota woman has accused Ziegler of rape. The state party Chair remains under active criminal investigation but to date faces no charges.

A search warrant shows Sarasota Police have footage of Ziegler showing up at the accuser’s apartment, where she told police he came in and forced her to have sex with him. Ziegler’s wife, School Board member Bridget Ziegler, acknowledged to police that she had been involved with a sexual encounter involving the woman and her husband a year prior to the alleged incident.

Christian Ziegler to date has rebuffed calls for his resignation, including by Florida Republican leaders including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner.

Of course, Gaetz has a history of surviving embarrassing sex scandals that once bore the threat of criminal prosecution.

In 2021, news broke that federal prosecutors were targeting Gaetz in a sex trafficking case, stemming from an investigation of former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg. Gaetz denied allegations he knowingly transported a minor across state lines to have sex with him.

A House Ethics Committee investigation involving the allegations is ongoing. But federal prosecutors in February told Gaetz they had concluded their investigation and would not charge the Congressman with any crimes.

An attorney for Ziegler has said any investigation should exonerate Ziegler of any criminal wrongdoing.

“Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit whether it be for political purposes or financial gain,” said attorney Derek Byrd. “I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded.”

Florida Politics has reached out to all Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican and co-chair of the delegation, declined to comment. Notably, Ziegler previously worked on Buchanan’s campaign and House staff.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


23 comments

  • rick whitaker

    December 3, 2023 at 3:13 pm

    as the maga cultist house members say, where there’s smoke there must be fire. lots of smoke here.

  • Claire

    December 3, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    Matt Gaetz is scum, but I actually agree with him on this. Especially after listening to the 911 call made by the accuser’s friend.
    I was also on a town hall Christian hosted for Byron Donalds on October 3rd, which would’ve been the night after the incident happened. Christian didn’t have a single scratch or bruise anywhere on his face, neck, or elsewhere that could be seen on camera. He was as calm and professional as ever. I don’t believe for a second he did what he’s been accused of.

    • Red Vote

      December 3, 2023 at 4:07 pm

      Especially after the FAILED Fraud aka: CB Ford… Year, Location, Friend, All non-existent…. #ExposingDEMsCorruptionDaily… 🕵️😏🙏🤔

    • Joe

      December 3, 2023 at 4:20 pm

      Christian and his awful wife already both admitted to a three-way tryst with the victim, which is more than enough for them both to be branded consummate GOP hypocrites and removed from political influence. These are disgusting people and you are pathetic for defending either of them. The fact that sex pest Gaetz is sticking up for them pretty much says it all.

      • Claire

        December 3, 2023 at 4:39 pm

        I’m just pointing out facts, Joe.
        I don’t agree that having consensual threesomes means one of them deserves to be accused of rape without any evidence to back that accusation up.

    • Not Convinced

      December 3, 2023 at 4:30 pm

      I was on the same virtual town hall event and remember Christian being on camera the entire time, visibly so.
      And yeah, presumably if Christian had just committed a rape less than 24 hours beforehand, he’d have had some evidence of a recent struggle on his face (scratching, bruising) but he also didn’t appear tired or distracted. The guy wouldn’t have slept well if he’d done something so terrible the night before. He wouldn’t have been as lively and interactive as he was on October 3rd.
      As far as the 911 call, I’m not calling the accuser a liar but the 911 call certainly begs the question of how reliable her memory and perception were when she told her friend about the (alleged) incident. Alcoholism/drug addiction fogs the mind and manipulates perceptions. It sounds like the accuser struggles with one or both issues.
      I feel sorry for whoever the true victim is in all of this, but I’m not convinced it’s Christian’s accuser.

      • rick whitaker

        December 3, 2023 at 5:55 pm

        not convinced, i read your post and i saw several words that made me discount your comment. you said IF twice, PRESUMABLY, APPEAR, SOUNDS LIKE, and a few more speculative assumptions. if i was in a trial as a defendant, and was guilty as charged, i would want you on my jury

        • Not Convinced

          December 3, 2023 at 8:25 pm

          My comments simply recognized an absence of firsthand knowledge about this case. In the 911 call, it is said that the accuser suffers from addiction and alcoholism. I have no direct knowledge of that, so I said it “sounds like” she struggles with those challenges. But I understand that others who comment on this article may not be willing to admit their own limited knowledge of what happened – and what didn’t.
          Best of luck to you in ever getting seated on a jury.

          • rick whitaker

            December 3, 2023 at 11:51 pm

            not convinced, i don’t care what a bunch of sex freaks do at home. the accuser here is probably a nutcase so i don’t listen to much of that. i just like is when sanctimonious republicans get exposed. my comment was just a joust at people caring about such crap. no offence to you. i’m too old to get it up, much less get caught doing something to someone to get caught for. have a good day

  • Joe

    December 3, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    Groomers and hypocrites gotta stick together!

  • Me Neither

    December 3, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    It’s a good thing we didn’t have so many GOP leaders rushing to judgment when Brett Kavanaugh was accused of rape and assault by multiple women. And how did that work out, everyone?

    Put the pitch forks down. Show some spine and speak the unpopular truth here: Christian deserves the same fairness and opportunity to present facts and evidence that may clear his name, as what his accuser is already getting to destroy it.

    • rick whitaker

      December 3, 2023 at 5:24 pm

      facts, evidence, and testimony wasn’t enough in the cavanaugh case to keep him out of the supreme court. so facts, evidence, and testimony might not be enough to get zeigler removed as gop chairman. being a partisan dem, i hope he stays in office. if desantis is against something, i’m for it.

      • Me Neither

        December 3, 2023 at 5:31 pm

        You seem to be forgetting that Kavanaugh’s accusers also included women who admitted to lying about the whole thing just to get attention. ‘Accusations’ and ‘facts’ do not share the same meaning. There’s a reason for that.

        • rick whitaker

          December 3, 2023 at 8:24 pm

          me neither, i carefully watched every second of the cavanaugh hearing and all the media commentary on the same, and i don’t recall the ” admissions of lying ” you spoke of. is that something they talked about on fox? i go out of my way to weigh facts and accusations differently, but if facts or accusations are cherry-picked or taken out of context, they can take on an opposite meaning. let me make a wild guess, you are a cavanaugh supporter, right? i am an unabashed stickler of honesty, so i am not a cavanaugh fan. i clearly recall hearing him testify under oath that he would stick with the 50 years of roe vs wade precedent, he lied.

  • Michael K

    December 3, 2023 at 7:06 pm

    Not buying it. The leaders of the House, Senate, and the governor are all calling for his resignation. They must know something the rest of us do not – besides the fact that these people all presented themselves as self-righteous moral crusaders and virulent anti-LGBTQ posers. That, alone warrants his resignation, along with Ms. “Liberty for me, not for thee.”

    • Big Question

      December 3, 2023 at 8:33 pm

      Great. If they all have such vital facts relevant to the accusations against Christian, I expect we will see their names on witness lists/reports unless their knowledge predates the incident – which means they knew of prior acts and did nothing.
      Guess we’ll see which scenario turns out to be true: that these legislators are once again just bending to Ron’s impulse and political pressure, or if they have been withholding information that incriminates their Party Chairman. Neither scenario inspires confidence in their judgment.

      • rick whitaker

        December 3, 2023 at 8:37 pm

        big question, well said

  • Richard C. Russell

    December 3, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    Facts matter unless you are An unAmerican Marxist Communist DA, Judge or politician!

    • rick whitaker

      December 3, 2023 at 10:04 pm

      richard russell, a fact is the opposite of whatever trump says. why do you use the word marxist so much, is that a maga cultist thing, i think so. haters got to demonize things in an effort to build themselves up. are you that insecure?

      • Richard C Russell

        December 4, 2023 at 2:24 pm

        A fact is: Trump’s policies made America safe and were consistent with the Founders vision for America: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Marxism provides none of those promises. You are a shill for Xi Jinping if you can’t see that FACT!

  • Joe

    December 4, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Lol at the Ziegler PR team putting in work in the FP comments sections…

  • Fred Gamble

    December 5, 2023 at 10:56 am

    What “facts” are Matt Gates waiting to be confirmed? Christian (yes, that’s his given name), the married, family values chair of the Florida Republican Party admitted to having sex with a woman that was not his wife. His wife admitted to police that she and Christian had a threesome with the same woman. These are not a crime in most states, but is that who you want leading the state Republican Party?

Comments are closed.


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