The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, is in serious trouble after it was revealed Thursday that he is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. The crime is part of an investigation led by the Sarasota Police Department in Florida. An anonymous individual filed a police report claiming that she was sexually battered by Christian Ziegler at home on Oct. 2.
That reason was enough for one of his main allies, Governor Ron DeSantis, to turn on him and request he resign from his position as chairman of the state Republican Party. This incident followed DeSantis' heated debate with Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, which took place on the same day that Ziegler's indictment was made public.
He’s innocent till proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny. The mission is more important. I don't see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations, and I think he should step aside.
Divided opinions regarding Florida GOP chairman
The Sarasota County Republican Party was also surprised to learn that its chairman was involved in the police investigation. The headquarters that Ziegler has led since February, which he has belonged to for decades, issued a statement, picked up by the Herald-Tribune, saying that the party is "shocked and disappointed" after learning of the indictment: "The Republican Party takes all such allegations of potential criminal conduct very seriously and will fully cooperate with investigators."
Ziegler's attorney, Derek Byrd, firmly believes Christian Ziegler is innocent. He assured that his client has been "fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department":
Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit whether it be for political purposes or financial gain. I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded. Out of respect for the investigation, this is all Mr. Ziegler or myself can say at this time.
Michael Thompson, chairman of the Lee County Republican Party, has a similar opinion. He stated that Ziegler was innocent and, therefore, should not resign from his position as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF):
If the allegations are true I’m pretty sure change will come at the RPOF but I don’t believe it for a minute. Christian’s the chairman. Christian’s still the chairman of the organization until something else happens. We don’t anticipate Christian leaving as the chair.