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Republican Party of Florida calls meeting on future of chairman accused of rape

The Republican Party of Florida on Monday evening called for a special meeting to hold a vote on the future of its chairman, Christian Ziegler, who is under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of rape.

A memo sent by Evan Power, the vice chairman of the state GOP, to the party’s executive board and obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, calls for the special meeting to be held Dec. 17 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

In the email, Power wrote that he has a “heavy heart,” and that “in an act of respect for the Chairman,” he first asked Ziegler to call an executive board meeting. But Power wrote that Ziegler “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.”

According to the memo, the special meeting will be for the sole purpose of considering “censure or discipline” of Ziegler, which could include suspending “some or all” of Ziegler’s authority and pay, a vote of no confidence or appointing a special investigative committee. In the case of the committee, the executive board would eventually hear evidence and could consider removing Ziegler from office or expelling him from the party, according to the memo.

READ MORE: Florida GOP Chairman accused of sexual battery. His attorney says he’ll be exonerated

“I hope that we are able to move the Party forward in a positive manner as the 2024 elections are the most important elections we face in my lifetime,” Power wrote.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called for Ziegler to step aside Thursday following news reports about the criminal investigation. By Monday, both House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo had also said Ziegler should resign.

But Ziegler on Saturday indicated in a memo to party members that he did not plan to step down. “We have a country to save and I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put that mission on the bench as I wait for this process to wrap up,” Ziegler wrote.

No criminal charges have been brought against Ziegler, and his attorney has asserted that he will be exonerated.

The criminal investigation stems from an October incident between Ziegler and a woman, who told police that he sexually assaulted her in her Sarasota apartment, according to a search warrant affidavit.

The woman, whose name is redacted in police documents, reported that she had previously had a three-person sexual encounter with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget. The woman said she’d agreed to have sex with both Zieglers again that day in October but canceled when she learned Bridget Ziegler could not attend, according to the affidavit.

Bridget Ziegler is a prominent conservative education advocate who co-founded the Moms for Liberty group and is a member of the Sarasota County School Board.

The woman reportedly told investigators that she later found Christian Ziegler outside her apartment when she was leaving to walk her dog, and that he came inside and raped her. When detectives later interviewed Christian Ziegler with his attorney, he told them he had sex with the woman but it was consensual.

Officials are still investigating.