In new comments, DeSantis described Christian Ziegler’s “untenable situation” as party Chair, noted that other leaders in the party want him gone. DeSantis was clear in saying that Ziegler remaining as the leader of the Florida GOP gets in the way of the “mission.”
“I said that the other night when it came out, it’s, look, you’re innocent until proven guilty. There’s clearly things that are lodged against people that aren’t necessarily true. But I think when you have an investigation of crimes of this magnitude, I think that the mission has to come first. It is not helpful to the mission to have this hanging over his head,” DeSantis said.
A Sarasota Police report shows an investigation has been underway since Oct. 4, and that a woman accused Ziegler of a rape on Oct. 2, an incident alleged to have happened just hours before Ziegler attended a local Republican meeting in the same town.
The accuser previously had a sexual encounter with both Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler. But on the occasion of the alleged assault, Christian Ziegler was alone with the alleged victim.
“I’ve said he should step aside. Paul Renner, the Speaker. Kathleen (Passidomo), Senate President. I think most people acknowledge that it’s just an untenable situation when you have things like that there. And so we’ll see what ends up happening. But I don’t know that you have any real standing with that hanging over you,” DeSantis added Tuesday.
DeSantis had previously said regarding Ziegler that he didn’t “see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations.”
Ziegler has thus far rebuffed any calls to resign, but indications are the party could move to remove him.
Vice Chairman Evan Power wants a special meeting in Orlando on Dec. 17. The agenda includes potential censure or discipline for Ziegler following party rules. That includes determining if Ziegler must be deemed unfit for office and whether his actions have hurt the “good name of the RPOF.”
Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.