The state-controlled Disney World tourism board stayed silent at its latest meeting regarding Bridget and Christian Ziegler’s growing scandal.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Bridget Ziegler to the board that runs Disney World’s infrastructure and emergency services in February.
Shaking up Florida’s political landscape, news broke that Bridget’s husband, Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chair Christian Ziegler has been accused of sexually assaulting a Sarasota woman in October. He is under investigation, although he has not been charged with a crime.
The police investigation brought up lurid details of Bridget and Christian’s private life. Bridget, known as a co-founder of Moms for Liberty and for fighting against LGBTQ issues, told police she and her husband previously had a consensual sexual encounter with the accuser.
A growing number of leaders — including DeSantis himself — have urged Christian to step down from his influential GOP position, and some critics are now calling on Bridget to resign from her Sarasota County School Board post.
Just outside Disney World, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board (CFTOD) did not address or acknowledge the controversy during its previously scheduled in-person special meeting. Bridget Ziegler attended the meeting remotely but did not speak. The only comment came from a member of the public, Celebration resident Debbie McDonald, who called Bridget a hypocrite.
“The Governor has called on her husband, Christian Ziegler, to resign his position with the Florida GOP in the wake of the serious criminal allegations. Bridget should follow,” McDonald said during public comment. “In her case, it is a distraction from the governance of this board.”
The board did not directly respond to her criticism.
The Disney tourism board saved most of their choice words for The Walt Disney Co. during Wednesday’s nearly four-hour meeting.
The tourism board, which is in a legal fight with Disney, approved a scathing audit report looking at Disney’s power and control and the lack of independence from Reedy Creek Improvement District before it was renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
In response, Disney called the board’s audit “an exercise in revisionist history.”
The audit said Disney used its special district to have almost total control and argued there had been a lack of oversight by Reedy Creek.
“The Reedy Creek Act was a Pandora’s box, a curse disguised in the form of a beautiful gift. Now that the truth is out, Florida lawmakers and government officials should expel the curse with more reforms to the district,” said board Chairman Martin Garcia.
Meanwhile, Disney slammed the audit as “neither objective nor credible, and only seeks to advance CFTOD’s interests in its wasteful litigation that could derail investment within the district. Further, it does not change the fact that the CFTOD board was appointed by the governor to punish Disney for exercising its Constitutional right to free speech,” according to the company’s statement.
The feud between state Republicans and Disney began after the theme park company’s then-leader criticized Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics. DeSantis pushed legislation that gave him the power to appoint new members to the tourism board, which included Bridget Ziegler, and for the state to be allowed to inspect the Disney World monorail for the first time.