‘Untenable’: Paul Renner joins call for Christian Ziegler to resign
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/7/23-House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, speaks during the opening day of the 2023 Florida Legislative Session, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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‘It is untenable for Christian Ziegler to continue as Chairman of the RPOF and I recommend he resign his post.’

Add House Speaker Paul Renner to a growing list of officials calling for Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chair Christian Ziegler to step down in the wake of sexual assault allegations.

Less than 24 hours after Senate President Kathleen Passidomo asserted that it is “impossible” for Ziegler to continue leading the state party, Renner issued a statement expressing similar sentiments.

“It is untenable for Christian Ziegler to continue as Chairman of the RPOF and I recommend he resign his post,” Renner told Florida Politics on Sunday afternoon. “The serious allegations at issue require his full attention and we need someone who can provide the singular focus the party needs.”

Other Florida GOP notables recommending Ziegler’s exit include Gov. Ron DeSantis, state Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, and North Fort Myers state Rep. Spencer Roach, who also called for Ziegler’s wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, to vacate her Sarasota School Board seat.

Christian Ziegler’s political and legal troubles stem from a Sarasota woman  accusing him of rape during a sexual encounter at her home in early October. A search warrant used to obtain digital information from Ziegler’s electronic device confirms he was at the woman’s home when the crime allegedly took place. Police also possess text messages and recorded phone conversations in which the woman accuses Ziegler of rape, to which Ziegler replied, “Those are big words, please don’t, no I didn’t.”

Bridget Ziegler confirmed to police the three had been involved in a prior sexual encounter at least once a year before.

According to the warrant affidavit, first reported by the Orlando Sentinel and ABC Action News, the Zieglers scheduled a second tryst with the woman on Oct. 2. But when Bridget Ziegler said she was unable to participate, the woman told investigators she canceled things. Christian Ziegler showed up anyway, entered her apartment and raped her, she said.

Christian Ziegler told police the encounter was consensual and that he had video evidence to prove it. The affidavit said police had not yet recovered the video and that following the alleged assault, the woman went to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and underwent a rape kit examination.

A co-worker of the woman notified police of the alleged rape Oct. 4 after going to the woman’s house following two consecutive days in which the woman did not show up to work. The Florida Trident broke news of the 911 call Friday.

Police have not filed charges yet against Ziegler, but he remains under active criminal investigation.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, state Rep. Alex Andrade of Pensacola, and Manatee County Republican Party Chair Steve Vernon, among others, have argued a resignation now would be premature.

Gaetz, who faced allegations of impropriety in a 2021 sex trafficking case that resulted in no charges against him, said elected officials and the public should “wait for the facts” before demanding Ziegler’s resignation.

In an email Saturday to RPOF members, Ziegler said he won’t say much publicly now about the matter in order to “protect the integrity of the investigation.”

He blamed former Florida ACLU Board member Michael Barfield and former Republican lawyer Ron Filipkowski for spreading word about the allegations, which he denied are true.

Ziegler did not say whether he plans to leave his post.

“We have a country to save,” he said. “I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put that mission on the bench as I wait for this process to wrap up.”

___

Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


16 comments

  • My Take

    December 3, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    Rape. No big deal for Republicans.
    Their “President” does it.

  • Josh Green

    December 3, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    He’s a Republican. Raping a woman is something that their base will love.

    • Impeach Biden

      December 4, 2023 at 9:46 am

      Demo’s support Hamas raping, murdering, and torturing women and children. Find another subject to bitch about.

      • Josh Green

        December 4, 2023 at 10:47 am

        Nobody supports Hamas you donut.

      • steve

        December 4, 2023 at 8:01 pm

        stupid post

  • ScienceBLVR

    December 3, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    Hopefully, Bridget can be the next guest reader at a Drag Queen Story hour featuring banned LGBTQ books…

  • Dale A Arnold

    December 3, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    We have a country to save,” he said.
    Yeah for hypocritical people like him and his “save the children” wife!

  • Dale A Arnold

    December 3, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    Republicans are Totally, unequivocally Hypocritical!!!

  • Lex

    December 4, 2023 at 8:33 am

    Rape is a serious crime that causes serious damage; we need to prevent them and punish them. It is also a hard crime to fairly evaluate because it tends to happen when two people are alone and there are only two witnesses. We do need to take them seriously. We also need to know that because there are only two witnesses, it is easy for allegations of such to be used for personal or political gain by the accuser. We need to temper serious investigations with the ability for the accused to put on a defense both in a court and in the court of public opinion. But in my experience, the Republicans are far better at policing their candidates who do wrong than the Democrats. Biden is allowing his family to take millions from China and no Democrat cares. Why isn’t that worth an investigation?

    • Joe

      December 4, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Umm… wow! That is actually the stupidest possible deflection from the issue here.

    • andrew

      December 4, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Lx is 100% pulling for the rapist here and is totally consumed with Fox News clearly. I mean wow!

    • Angela Baker

      December 4, 2023 at 10:00 am

      Completely agree with you that “rape is a serious crime”. But when you say “Republicans are far better at policing their candidates who do wrong than the Democrats…”, just wondering if you forget that the Trump, the leader in the presidential GOP race, has been found civilly liable for sexual assault of E Jean Carroll. So, can’t share your opinion that the GOP is better at all this “policing…”

    • rick whitaker

      December 4, 2023 at 11:01 am

      lex, you are a brainwashed maga cultist. i suggest an aggressive deprograming for you in hopes that you can return to a semblance of sanity. if you’re like most brainwashed people, you won’t admit you need help. if you have a family member that you are not estranged from that wants to perform an intervention, maybe that will work.

  • Bruce Harms

    December 4, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    He needs to go please resign

  • Dont Say FLA

    December 4, 2023 at 8:07 pm

    Untenable? for the Florida GOP? LOFL.

    Floridan GOP are even dirtier than vermin feces

  • Kirk Smith

    December 5, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    I’m an elected GOP legislative district vice chair and this issue is a political no-brainer. Florida’s State GOP Vice Chair will have to do the right thing and call for the board to vote on the removal of Christian Ziegler who is selfishly putting himself and his ego above the best interests of the party and all down ballot republicans who will be negatively affected if he remains as Chair. The sooner Christian Ziegler’s hypocrisy is dealt with, the better for the GOP.

Comments are closed.


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