Christian Ziegler is refusing the inevitable. He won’t admit he’s beat, and he’s fighting it with all the zeal — albeit much more quietly and a helluva lot more privately — as former President Donald Trump, with whom the two now share something in common: rape allegations.
But make no mistake, he is beat.
Late Thursday night, news broke that provides evidence that contradicts at least some of the story told by the woman accusing Ziegler of raping her.
Initial reports — and I’m really paraphrasing here because you all have been following along closer than back in the day with Game of Thrones — showed the woman had told police Ziegler came into her apartment uninvited and raped her on a barstool. The latest report describes video Ziegler took on his cell phone, allegedly showing the woman directing Ziegler to climax in her mouth, not on her new shirt. And the two reportedly left her apartment at the same time.
If true, that information will most likely lead to no charges being filed against Ziegler over the rape allegations.
But even if he pulls a Matt Gaetz and avoids charges, his political troubles are far from over, and he must resign as Chair of the Florida GOP.
First of all, what elected official is going to want to have their picture taken with Ziegler after learning everything we’ve learned? And what donor who wants to be taken seriously is going to want to cut a check to a party run by a man who it is now publicly known goes for the money shot?
This is a man who, rather than just the face of the Florida GOP, is now the Florida face of hypocrisy.
He and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member and Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, have both been vocally anti-LGBTQ. Bridget Ziegler is no longer officially affiliated with Moms for Liberty, but she launched it to much conservative fanfare. The group is all for banning books that so much as whisper something about being gay. And Ziegler is leading a party that is all too happy to torch LGBTQ rights in state law.
But what is not currently in doubt is this: The accuser was more interested in a sexual encounter with Bridget Ziegler than her husband, and Bridget Ziegler admitted to the relationship.
So much for Don’t Say Gay.
And the optics. Holy lord the optics!
Christian Ziegler can wear the snazziest suits, he can come up with the perfect crisis PR strategy. He can swear his innocence until he’s blue in the face. But what is everyone going to see when they look at him now? A guy who fields requests to climax — guarantee that’s not the word used in Ziegler’s exchange with this woman — on someone’s face. They’re going to see a swinger who publicly disparages gayness while privately engages in sexual activity with two women, one of whom is way more into another chick than she is to the man in the scenario.
I mean, this might be a gross (literally gross) exaggeration, but the GOP might as well have a porn star at the head of the table right now. No one wants to think about Christian Ziegler’s penis when debating 2024 election strategy.
But yet he’s holding out, playing what The Messenger’s Marc Caputo described as “the Trump Card.”
Caputo reported that those who have spoken to Ziegler privately about the allegations say he has pointed to the former President’s silence on the scandal as an indication of tacit support. They also say Ziegler accused Republicans who have called for his ouster of being hypocrites themselves because they haven’t also called for Trump to remove himself from politics.
Trump, it is famously known, has been held liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in the ’90s and has been charged in a case involving hush money payments to port star Stormy Daniels after he had sex with her while his wife was pregnant.
But at the end of the day, Ziegler is not Trump. He can hold out for a little while longer, perhaps. And maybe he’ll even make it to the Dec. 17 emergency hearing where the Florida GOP’s executive board will consider forcing him out.
But in the shady Sunshine State, Christian and Bridget Ziegler have become the Will Smith and Jada Pinkett of Florida Politics. Sooner or later, Christian Ziegler is going to have to face his reckoning.
Dare I say, it’s time for him to pull out.