A Florida GOP Leader, a Moms for Liberty Founder, and Allegations of Group Sex and Rape

Buckle up.

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

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Where to even begin? The investigative journalism outlet Florida Center for Government Accountability has a story today alleging that Christian Ziegler, the chair of the Florida GOP, sexually assaulted a woman. This would be enough to attract attention, but this woman was allegedly having a ménage à trois with him and his wife Bridget, the erstwhile crusading chair of the Sarasota school board and a co-founder of the parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty.

The accusations in the story—which Mother Jones could not independently verify—are wild, to say the least:

The woman, according to sources close to the investigation, alleged that she and both Zieglers had been involved in a longstanding consensual three-way sexual relationship prior to the incident. The incident under investigation by Sarasota police occurred when Christian Ziegler and the woman were alone at the woman’s house, without Bridget Ziegler present, the sources conveyed.

Sources also corroborated that a search warrant was executed on Christian Ziegler’s cell phone and that investigators continue to conduct a forensic examination of the electronic device. Christian Ziegler is also alleged to have secretly videotaped the sexual encounters between the couple and the woman, sources said.

The story links to a police report obtained through a Freedom of Information Request for information involving Christian Ziegler. Nearly every word of the report has been redacted except “raped” and “sexual assault complaint.” 

If this scandal appeared in a book, it would certainly be banned by Moms for Liberty, which has called for sexually explicit material to be removed from school libraries, especially those that involve same-sex relationships of any kind. The group has been at the forefront of the movement to remove LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum from classrooms. 

Ziegler, who spoke at both Moms for Liberty conferences I attended, now serves as a vice president at the Leadership Institute, the decades-old organization that trains conservatives to run for office and has been a sponsor of Moms for Liberty conferences for two years running. She has been praised lavishly by Florida governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, who once said, “We should have her in every county!” 

Today’s news coincides with the end of Ziegler’s term as Sarasota school board chair. In a Facebook post yesterday, she listed her accomplishments, which included “Terminated ‘Gender Diverse Guidelines,’ “Eliminated ‘Equity’ Committee,” and “Eliminated ‘equity’ policy & position.” 

“I am optimistic that we have many of the right people who are willing to roll up their sleeves, and make the tough decisions necessary to improve the areas that have needed attention for over a decade,” she wrote in the post. “If each board member remains mission-focused and doesn’t waiver in their responsibility of accountability, then the sky is the limit!”

Neither one of the Zieglers has commented on any of the allegations. 

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GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

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