Florida’s Republican Party has a new scandal on its hands. The Sarasota Police Department announced that it is investigating the party’s chairman for sexual battery stemming an accusation made two months ago.
When Christian Ziegler won the election for state party chairman earlier in the year, it was viewed as a major coup for President Trump against his biggest primary rival.
Politico wrote in February that “Ziegler, a Republican political consultant with clients across the country, has worked closely with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, giving some the perception he was a more Trump-aligned candidate even as he has professed his support for DeSantis since he first took office in 2018.
Trump’s team did nothing to downplay the proxy war perception after the vote.
‘Chair races across the country are and should be important for people running for president,’ said a consultant familiar with the Trump campaign’s thinking. The person was granted anonymity to freely discuss the race. ‘To that extent, the more Trump candidate won today. That means the Trump campaign is likely pleased with the outcome.'”
Now, those words may be coming back to bite Trump.
According to a heavily redacted police report obtained by POLITICO through a public records request, the alleged incident took place on Oct. 2 at a home in Sarasota and the victim filed a complaint two days later. The documents omit details about the victim’s statement to authorities but include the words “rape” and “sexually battered.”
The Florida Trident, the news platform for the open government watchdog Florida Center for Government Accountability, was first to report on the news.
Ziegler, through his attorney, acknowledged the police were investigating him and said he’d been “fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department.”
“We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated,” his attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement. “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.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already called for Ziegler’s resignation.
“I don’t see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations, and so I think that he should, I think he should step aside. He’s innocent till proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny,” noted The Washington Post.
DeSantis made the comments following a debate between him and California Governor Gavin Newsom.