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DeSantis calls for resignation of embattled Florida GOP chairman

By Maegan Vazquez and Lori Rozsa
December 1, 2023 at 7:52 a.m. EST

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is calling for the resignation of Florida GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler, who is ensnared in a police inquiry involving alleged sexual battery.

“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,” DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, told reporters Thursday night. “He’s innocent till proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny.”

DeSantis’s comments followed an appearance on Fox News with California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that was billed as a debate between the two governors. DeSantis’s remarks were reported by multiple media outlets.

Police in Sarasota, Fla., are conducting an investigation involving Ziegler, according to a police incident report and a statement from his attorney.

Ziegler is the husband of Sarasota County School Board member and Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler. When asked about the investigation, Sarasota police did not confirm details.

However, they released a heavily redacted police report in response to The Washington Post’s inquiry that includes the words “rape,” “raped” and “sexually battered.” The incident, which the report indicates took place at a home in Sarasota, was reported to police in early October.

Ziegler’s attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement, “We acknowledge the reports that there is an investigation being conducted by the Sarasota Police Department regarding Mr. Ziegler.” He added that his client “has been fully cooperative” with police.

“We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated,” Byrd added.

Sarasota police confirmed Thursday that the investigation was active.

The Florida Center for Government Accountability first reported on the investigation.

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