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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 17:11 IST

Florida Republicans suspend party chair Christian Ziegler over rape allegations

The Chairman of the Republican Party's wing in Florida, Christian Ziegler was suspended by his fellow party leader during an emergency meeting on Sunday.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit
Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit | Image:AP
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Tallahassee, Florida: The Chairman of the Republican Party's wing in Florida, Christian Ziegler was suspended by his fellow party leader during an emergency meeting on Sunday. The decision was taken after Ziegler went under criminal investigation for allegations of sexual assault, including rape. Zeigler’s suspension came during an emergency meeting of the Florida GOP’s state executive committee in Orlando. According to NBC News, the gathering was called as the Sarasota Police Department investigates allegations that the GOP leader sexually assaulted a woman in early October in her Sarasota apartment.

While Ziegler has vehemently denied the allegations, the authorities have not formally placed any charges as of now. During the Sunday emergency meeting, the party leaders voted to make the Florida GOP leader’s salary $1 and agreed to strip him of most of his powers as chairman. Ziegler’s position was then transferred to current Vice Chair Evan Power, NBC News reported. A motion was proposed to oust Ziegler during the Sunday meeting, but the party could not vote on the matter and agreed to vote on it formally next month. “Today the Republican Party of Florida took a step to hold our chairman accountable for his action,” Power said. “We will follow through in removing him from power, but I implore Chairman Ziegler to do the right thing and resign,” he added.

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Ron DeSantis called for Ziegler’s resignation

Almost every major Republican leader in Florida has called for Ziegler’s resignation amid the brewing scandal. The list also included the Governor of Florida and GOP presidential runner Ron DeSantis. However, Ziegler has rejected all the accusations hurled against him and called them “false”. During a two-hour meeting held in Orlando, Ziegler made the case that he should not be punished and insisted that he should continue to work and boost the party’s fundraising, NBC News reported. “Christian pushed back today and tried to justify to the board that if he was able to pull through he would have donors who could help, which I thought was pretty tasteless,” said Michael Thompson, who chairs the Republican Party of Lee County. “It was very egotistical,” he added.

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The allegations which are now being investigated by the Sarasota Police Department revolve around a woman who had known Ziegler and his wife for 20 years. According to the affidavit filed by the woman’s lawyer, the Zieglers were trying to have a consensual sexual encounter with the accuser. However, the woman tried to cancel it after she found out that Bridget would not be there.

Despite cancelling, the woman accused the Republican leader of showing up to her apartment and raped the woman. Christian’s wife Bridget is the co-founder of the conservative group Moms for Liberty. Amid the chaos, she had to resign from her post as a director for the Liberty Institute. 

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 17:10 IST

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