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Ziegler Stripped of Powers as GOP Chairman

Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla. The Republican Party of Florida suspended Ziegler and demanded his resignation during an emergency meeting Sunday, Dec. 17, adding to calls by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top officials for him to step down as police investigate a rape accusation against him.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
/
Associated Press
Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla. The Republican Party of Florida suspended Ziegler and demanded his resignation during an emergency meeting Sunday, Dec. 17, adding to calls by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top officials for him to step down as police investigate a rape accusation against him.

In a step toward removing him from office next month, Christian Ziegler was censured and stripped of powers as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Sunday.

The moves came as he sought to maintain the $120,000-a-year leadership post amid an investigation into an alleged sexual battery.

The party’s Executive Board, meeting at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, approved a motion that positions the Sarasota Republican to be ousted from the chairmanship when the party Executive Committee meets on Jan. 8. The decision immediately cut Ziegler’s pay to $1 a year and removed his authority to hire and fire employees, raise money for the party, adjust salaries of employees, enter into contracts or loans and speak on behalf of the party.

The leadership powers were transferred to Vice Chairman Evan Power, who called the meeting after Ziegler declared his intention to remain in the post while at the center of a growing scandal.

Details of the closed-door board meeting were posted online by Lee County GOP Chairman Michael Thompson.

Ziegler has been the subject of an investigation by the Sarasota Police Department since Oct. 4, when he was accused of an alleged sexual assault by a woman who had been romantically involved with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget Ziegler.

Christian Ziegler has called the sexual-assault allegations “false” and said the encounter was consensual, while rejecting calls to exit the party chairmanship.

No charges have been filed.

Bridget Ziegler, who helped organize the Moms For Liberty conservative political group, is not involved in the criminal complaint.

But she has faced calls to step down from her elected seat on the Sarasota County School Board and from her appointed position on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors, which helps govern property that includes Walt Disney World. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her to the Central Florida board.

While former President Donald Trump has not weighed in on the situation, many leading Florida Republicans have called for Christian Ziegler to step down as the 2024 election cycle begins to heat up.

DeSantis, while campaigning for president in Johnston, Iowa, on Saturday, reiterated his view that Christian Ziegler should step down but didn’t take a stance about Bridget Ziegler.

“I called on Christian to step down as RPOF chairman. My understanding is he's the one that's under the criminal cloud,” DeSantis said. “Clearly, I think Bridget, and this is somebody that I've worked with and I've really liked the work she's done, I mean, she's gonna have to look to see how effective that she's going to be able to be in those circumstances.”

Christian Ziegler, with the backing of Trump supporters, won the party chairmanship in February over Power, the Leon County Republican Party chairman who had backing from supporters of DeSantis. Trump and DeSantis are battling for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

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