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GOP leaders could decide Christian Ziegler's fate in a special meeting

Christian Ziegler speaking at a podium
Phelan M. Ebenhack
Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla.

In an email, the vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida called for a Dec. 17 executive board meeting to determine whether party chair Christian Ziegler — who is under criminal investigation for sexual assault — should step down.

The Republican Party of Florida has called for a special meeting to decide the fate party chairman Christian Ziegler, who is under criminal investigation for sexual assault.

In an email sent to colleagues late Tuesday, GOP vice chair Evan Power asked to convene Dec. 17 in Orlando.

The executive board meeting would consider whether to discipline Ziegler, and could suspend his duties and pay.

RELATED: Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler, husband of Moms For Liberty cofounder, accused of sexual battery

The party has a moral clause that could allow board members to oust Ziegler. Vice Chairman Evan Power emailed party leaders and called for the emergency meeting.

“In an act of respect for the Chairman, this evening, I phoned him to request he call an executive board meeting; he declined and said the matters could be taken up in February. It is the opinion of the many members that is not an acceptable timetable,” Power wrote in the email.

Ziegler has resisted calls to resign from Gov. Ron DeSantis and a host of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

This includes Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who issued a statement on Tuesday.

“The allegations are very disturbing,” Scott said in a statement released by his re-election campaign. “I don't see how Christian can continue to successfully act as chairman while this cloud hovers over him.”

The allegations were first reported by the Florida Center for Government Accountability in its Florida Trident publication.

It prompted an investigation by the Sarasota Police Department after a woman, who said she was previously involved in a sexual relationship with Ziegler and his wife, accused him of sexually assaulting her in October.

DeSantis addressed what he called "very serious" allegations a day after the report surfaced.

"I don't see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing, given the gravity of those situations," DeSantis told reporters. "And so I think he should step aside, I think he should tend to that. He's innocent until proven guilty, but we just can't have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny."

Ziegler is a former Sarasota County commissioner, whose wife, Bridget, sits on the school board and co-founded the far-right group Moms For Liberty.

Christian Ziegler's lawyer, Derek Byrd, said in a statement that his client has been "fully cooperative" with the investigation.

No charges have been filed, and Ziegler has said the sex was consensual.

Information from the Florida Trident and staff writer Carl Lisciandrello contributed to this report.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.