The entire Florida Cabinet now says Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler should leave his post.
News broke last week that Ziegler has been under active criminal investigation for rape since early October.
Attorney General Ashley Moody told Florida Politics she cannot see Ziegler staying on as party leader.
“In light of the current allegations against Chairman Ziegler and statements he has already made regarding the events at issue, he is not in a position to effectively lead the Republican Party of Florida going forward, especially as we enter an important election year,” the Plant City Republican said.
Since news broke, Florida political leaders on both sides of the aisle have called for his resignation.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said he cannot see a way Ziegler remains as party Chair, and suspects if he doesn’t leave the post, that other party leaders will force the issue. In a lengthy statement, Patronis said he would not prejudge the criminal case, but said if Ziegler is guilty he should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
As for his role with the party, Patronis said the Chair position demands focus. “Serving as Chair is a hard job,” the Panama City Republican said.
“It required lots of travel, lots of rubber chicken dinners, and a lot of phone calls from sun up to sun down. As such, an RPOF meeting has been called by its members to help it regain focus, and considering the circumstances, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Chairman can continue fulfilling the workload demanded of the job. Should the executive committee feel it needs new leadership, they have my full support.”
Earlier Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson also said Ziegler should step down.
“While everyone deserves the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, the tremendously serious accusations being made against Christian make it impossible for him to effectively carry out the responsibilities of Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida,” the Trilby Republican said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday said Ziegler cannot remain state Chair, and on Tuesday reiterated his call for him to resign.
“I said that the other night when it came out, it’s, look, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “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.”
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, has also called for Ziegler to quit.
“I don’t see how Christian can continue to successfully act as Chairman while this cloud hovers over him,” Scott said. “I’m praying for everyone involved in this.”
That means nearly every statewide elected official in Florida, sans Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has called for Ziegler’s resignation.
But to date, Ziegler has rebuffed demands.