Florida Republican Party chair removed amid rape allegation he denies

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Christian Ziegler on Monday was voted out as chair of the Florida Republican Party, weeks after being pushed to resign from his position as police continue to investigate a rape accusation against him that he denies.

The vote to remove Zeigler occurred during a closed-door meeting on Monday afternoon in Tallahassee. The state party’s vice chair, Evan Power, was elected as the new chair.

“What we did today was come together and close this chapter and move on to move forward to continue to win elections in Florida,” Power told reporters after the meeting.

Ziegler was accused late last year of raping a woman with whom he and his wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder and Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, had a consensual sexual relationship.

Bridget Ziegler has not publicly commented on the allegations against her husband and has not been accused of a crime.

Sarasota police have been investigating the sexual abuse claim but Christian Ziegler has not been charged with a crime.

An attorney for him has said in a statement to news outlets, in part, “We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated.”

Michael Thompson, Florida’s Lee County Republican chairman and a member of the state party, told ABC News on Monday that removing Ziegler was the right thing to do.

“[This vote] is basically going to send a message to everyone in the Republican Party and even outside the Republican Party that it doesn’t matter if you’re a publicly elected official or a party official, you’re gonna be held accountable,” Thompson said.

Florida Republicans have in recent years won a string of major political victories in a famous swing state.

Power, newly chosen as chairman, told reporters that “we’re going to start right now fundraising for the party. You can’t do anything in this party without money. So that’s our No. 1 priority. We’re going to start building the infrastructure in our county party so that we can continue to win and win big.”

Leading Republicans in the state, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, had called on Ziegler to step down after the rape accusation became public, but he declined.

Before being removed as chair, Ziegler was suspended during a meeting in December when party members voted to cut his salary and strip him of his duties as chairman.

In late November, DeSantis said the accusation against Ziegler was “very serious.”

“I don’t see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations,” DeSantis said then. “And so, I think he should step aside and think he should attend to that. He’s innocent until proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny.”

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