Christian Ziegler

Christian Ziegler, now the chair of the Florida Republican Party, attends a rally at the Hillsborough County Republican Party office in Tampa on November 2, 2018.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

'I Was Mostly In It for Her': New Details in Rape Probe Embroiling Top GOP Official, Moms for Liberty Co-Founder

Amid charges of gross hypocrisy and many celebrating the possible downfall of a powerful far-right couple following revelations about their private sexual activities, the severity of the accusations led one Florida Democrat to remark, "None of this is funny."

New details made public over the weekend via police documents of a rape investigation have added fresh fuel to the political firestorm surrounding the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, and his wife Bridget Ziegler, co-founder of the far-right Moms for Liberty, which engages in book-banning efforts, attacks on public education, religious moralizing, and the promotion of fascist ideology in chapters nationwide.

After an unnamed longtime associate accused Christian Ziegler of rape last week, the emergence of a police search warrant and associated affidavit showed that the alleged victim said she had engaged in consensual three-way sexual relations with the Zieglers in the past but on the day of the assault, on Oct 3., tried to call off the encounter because Bridget would not be there to participate.

"Sorry I was mostly in for her," the victim said, according to text messages quoted in the affidavit.

The high-profile political work of the Zieglers—who rail against the sexual identities and lifestyle choices of others and who have been openly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, often suggesting queer people are somehow deviant or morally problematic—has resulted in cries of hypocrisy and calls for Christian's resignation.

"Allegations of rape and sexual battery are severe and should be taken seriously," said Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried in a statement on Thursday. "I applaud the accuser's bravery in coming forward against a political figure as powerful as Christian Ziegler, and I trust that the Sarasota Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations of criminal behavior."

Given the severity of the allegations against him, Fried called on Christian Zeigler to resign from his post, a call echoed later by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican currently running for the GOP presidential nomination.

Fried said that "what happens behind closed doors is Christian and Bridget's personal business," but added that she did "find it interesting that two people who are so obsessed with banning books about gay penguins might be engaged in a non-traditional sexual relationship," referring to a children's book about gay parents which has been targeted by Republicans for banning in schools in Florida and elsewhere.

"As leaders in the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty," said Fried, "the Zieglers have made a habit out of attacking anything they perceive as going against 'family values'—be it reproductive rights or the existence of LGBTQ+ Floridians. The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning."

According to the Washington Post:

News reports emerged several days ago about the allegations of rape, but more records were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request late Friday and reported by several Florida news outlets. They include details of recorded conversations via Instagram and phone calls between the woman and Christian Ziegler that detectives obtained. Police have filed search warrants for Ziegler’s phone, email and other devices. The Sarasota Police Department did not reply to several requests for comment.

Christian Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement Thursday that his client "will be completely exonerated." Byrd and Ziegler did not respond to requests for comment Saturday about the details in the affidavit.

"It's certainly deeply, deeply troubling," state Rep. Spencer Roach, a member of the Florida GOP executive committee, told the Post in an interview. "I would describe this as just an absolute body blow to the Republican Party. Everyone that I've talked to about this is in an absolute tailspin."

Paulina Testerman, a co-founder of the nonprofit Support Our Schools, which defends public education, spoke to The Daily Beast about the allegations of rape in the context the Ziegler's political activities in Florida.

"Many of us have stood at the podium of countless school board meetings and listened to Mrs. Ziegler drag the LGBT+ community, so it's natural to want to celebrate when bullies get what's coming," Testerman said. "But we must remind ourselves that there are many victims in this story. An alleged rape victim is the obvious victim, but our LGBT children and all marginalized children have all been the victim of the Zieglers and their hate machine. We are hopeful that their reign is over, and our community can start healing."

Bridget Ziegler—who reportedly confirmed to detectives she and her husband did have a consensual sexual relationship in the past—is not named in the affidavit, but Moms for Liberty defended her in a post on X following the initial revelations last week.

"#StrongWomen scare those that seek to destroy our country," the group stated. "We stand with Bridget Ziegler and every other badass woman fighting for kids and America."

But critics like Anne-Marie Principe and others pushed back on that.

"The hypocrisy is real," Principe tweeted. "First, they engaged in the sexual freedoms they want to deny others. Second, the alleged sexual assault of their threesome partner is not only denigrating women, it's a crime. So, I guess you are only about YOUR liberties. #WrongWomen not strong ones."

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