If Republican Party of Florida Christian Ziegler doesn’t resign, executive members appear ready to expel him in 30 days.
While bylaws for the state party don’t specifically allow for removal of a Chair, the party constitution contains provisions for establishing a tribunal to judge misconduct by a state officer.
Ziegler remains under active criminal investigation after a woman accused him of raping her in a Sarasota apartment. Police documents show Ziegler admitted to a sexual encounter but said it was consensual. Both Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, told police they had a threesome with the woman more than a year prior.
Earlier this week, Republican Party of Florida Vice Chair Evan Power sent an email to executive members seeking support for a special meeting in Orlando to discuss Ziegler’s future in the party. Tuesday night, enough members replied to that call to assure a meeting will happen.
Sources within the Republican Party say 33 of the 40 members of the party executive committee signed onto the demand for the meeting. The constitution requires half the members to agree.
But the party has no plans to release the full list of who signed or who did not.
The next step is for the members to gather at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando for a closed-door session, where most likely the party will appoint an investigatory committee for fact finding and to make recommendations on Ziegler’s fate.
That could include anything from a censure to expulsion from the party. Punishment could also include a suspension of Ziegler’s $120,000 annual salary.
Normally, calling the meeting would officially be the responsibility of the state Chair, but the threat to his pay created a fiduciary conflict of interest, which allows the Vice Chair to issue the call instead.
The biggest frustration for members who want Ziegler out remains timing. Any meeting requires at least a 10-day notice, a reason why members won’t gather until Dec. 17. But there also must be a notice for an investigating committee. The group will bring the matter back to an executive committee, requiring another 10-day notice.
In total, the process could take at least 30 days, presuming Ziegler does not resign his position in the meantime. But to date Ziegler has rebuffed any and all calls to step down, including from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In the meantime, more members of the party are openly calling for him to quit.
Earl Claire and John Vacciano, Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the state party’s Faith Mobilization Committee, held a meeting and signed a letter to Ziegler asking him to step down.
“We believe that the protection and healing of your family deserves your utmost attention now,” the letter reads.
“We believe that according to Scripture your marriage must be renewed and recentered upon the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We believe that no leadership role has greater significance than that of being the Spiritual Leader of your home. Please know that we will continue to pray for you and your precious family.”
Should Ziegler resign or be expelled, Power would act as Acting Chair with no salary until an election for a new Chair is held. That would need to happen within 60 days of Ziegler’s departure.