The world of Florida politics was rocked this week by the most salacious Republican Party of Florida scandal in state party history, as RPOF Chair Christian Ziegler and his wife Moms for Liberty Co-Founder Bridget Ziegler have been accused of sexually assaulting their alleged mutual polyamorous partner.
The Trident, the Florida Center for Government Accountability’s news imprint, broke the story first with reportage from South Florida journalism legend Bob Norman.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has joined Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried and others calling on Ziegler to “step aside,” as a 911 call and damning affadavit have surfaced detailing extreme distress from the Zieglers’ alleged victim.
Intrigue, Scandal Roil DeSantis Admin
The impact of this story, likely the most outrageous Florida political story of 2023, will continue to ripple through state and national news in the coming weeks.
The explosive scandal follows revelations in the Florida Bulldog that key former DeSantis administration figure Pete Antonacci died under suspicious circumstances, lying unattended for 24 minutes in a hallway adjoining the governor’s office after a heated exchange with DeSantis.
The DeSantis Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Chief of Staff has reportedly retired ahead of the revelations’ wake, where numerous lingering questions remain.
RPOF Future Uncertain — For Now
Immediately, Florida Republicans began to differ on the way forward as Lee County GOP Chair Michael Thompson came to Ziegler’s defense while Sarasota GOP issued a statement distancing themselves and responding they are “shocked and disappointed” by the reports.
Meanwhile, State Representative Spencer Roach reacted on a more whimsical note:
As I reflect on the unfolding scandal ROCKING the @FloridaGOP, one thing is abundantly clear: my sex life is pretty lame.
— SpencerRoach (@SpencerRoachFL) November 30, 2023
Tallahassee political observers seem to agree it’s a question of when, rather than if Ziegler steps down.
Evan Power for RPOF Chair?
The likely vacancy leaves GOP Vice Chair Evan Power, who lost to Ziegler in a January leadership contest, in place to assume the position of acting Chair.
Power is currently running to be Republican National Committeeman. There will be an interim period followed by an new Chair’s election, according to party rules. Whether Power will be pursue Party chair is an open question.
The move could set up yet another proxy war between Trump and DeSantis camps of Florida Republicans. while DeSantis loyalists won a state party rules fight over loyalty oaths.
Polls indicate Trump is dominating DeSantis in Florida by as much as 41 points. Trump had not addressed the Ziegler situation as of Friday evening.
This is a developing story.