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Beyond A Sex Scandal: FL GOP Chair Accused Of Rape

Rick Wilson writes about the shocking accusations against FL GOP Chair Christian and his wife, Bridget Ziegler (yes, the founder of Moms for Liberty).
Published:December 7, 2023

CONTENT WARNING: this article discusses an accusation of sexual assault, specifically, rape.

By Rick Wilson

Some elements of this story are adapted from my upcoming Florida book. The story in question today is absolutely going to be in the book…because, wow.

Found on Twitter. DM me for credit

Florida is the Mos Eisley of American States. If you’re looking for a wretched hive of scum and villainy, just take I-75 South from Atlanta.
I should know. I’m a fifth-generation Florida Man. The only way I’d be more Florida is if you saw helicopter news footage of me buck naked, except for a pair of Crocs running down the center of a highway median carrying my pet alligator over one shoulder as I fled the explosion that wrecked the meth lab where I lived with my common-law 5th wife, who is both a first cousin, a Santeria priestess and my parole officer.

Still, this week’s explosive news out of Florida is one of those perfect apotheoses of Republican moral hypocrisy.

Christian Ziegler, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida — he was handpicked for the job by Ryan Tyson, a powerful DeSantis insider and lead pollster to Ron’s campaign — and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, the founder of the infamous blue-stocking group Moms for Liberty, were involved in a long-running threesome with another woman.

The Zieglers are Florida GOP royalty, close friends, and allies of King Ron and Queen Casey DeSantis (R-Amnesia), present at every possible event in the GOP firmament.

The headlines are devastating:

Florida GOP Chair Accused of Sexual Battery

Florida GOP chairman ensnared in inquiry involving alleged sexual battery

'The hypocrisy is just off the charts': Zieglers face reckoning after moral crusading

Police investigating Florida Republican Party chair over alleged sexual assault

Florida Republicans face a crisis as the state party chair is accused of sexual battery

If the head of the Florida Democratic Party were accused of rape and sexual battery stemming from a long-running polyamorous relationship, Republicans would be screaming it from the rooftops, Fox would go to live 24/7 coverage, and Twitter would melt down. They would associate every Democrat who failed to condemn it and assert they were guilty of the same crime.

So far, Ziegler has refused to step down, even though Ron and Casey DeSantis moved — just as they did with Matt Gaetz — to cauterize and control the damage by calling on Ziegler to step down as RPOF chairman. Interestingly, DeSantis appointed Bridget Ziegler to his Vichy Disney Reedy Creek board earlier this year and has yet to ask her to be removed.

Bridget’s Moms For Liberty could get a meeting with any Republican member of the Florida House of Senate at the drop of a hat. They were feted in this town like they were the second coming. (Pun intended.) Their battle cry was “parents’ rights,” but their reality was a thinly veiled rollback of gay rights and the broad imposition of a Christian conservative curriculum in Florida’s public schools.

Bridget Ziegler was the poster girl for Moms for Liberty. Pretty, poised, and poisonous, she was a blonde tornado of action and activity. She helped elect dozens of like-minded MFL types to school boards, none of whom cared about education. Instead, they were passionately committed to injecting their flavor of social conservatism into the curriculum and the libraries.

As Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, “The Republican power couple have emerged as leading advocates in Florida for a new wave of conservative moral crusading largely centered around LGBTQ issues, especially in schools.” Think of every anti-LGBT trope, and they peddled it with gusto.

I was never a social conservative. Not even in the 1980s when it was a trendy political move to at least claim you were saved, born again, accepting Jesus as your personal savior, and eager to leap feet-first into the culture wars. It was never my thing for more reasons than I can articulate. The God Squad were never my people. I was much more Last Generation of Cold Warriors than Moral Majority. I cared about individual liberty, a robust foreign policy, and free markets.

Stuart Stevens and I share a joke from the late 1980s and early 1990s in Washington based entirely on a core truth. It was a typical sort of Republican game to wonder quietly, “Is X gay?” The funny answer was usually, “No, X isn’t conservative enough.”

It wasn’t just having two gay sisters (yes, I won the lesbian lottery!) that left me underwhelmed with the SoCons. It was the fact that on any given weekend, the same assholes who were preaching about the immorality of the “homosexers” (an evangie term that never stops making me laugh, even now) were at the DC Eagle in leather on Friday night looking for rough trade.

It’s always the Republicans who displayed the most outrageous, exaggerated social conservative playacting outrage on gay rights, gay marriage, divorce (yes, it was still a stigma with some socons even into the early 1990s), adultery, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy who ended up having dirty little secrets of their own. It’s always projection.

But Florida has a peculiar relationship with power, sex, and social conservatism. Florida’s senior mega-community, The Villages, is notoriously home to more swingers and STDs per capita than anywhere in the known universe.

We have the highest density of strip clubs and “massage parlors” (really, thinly disguised sex trafficking brothels) in the country. One of the first pieces I wrote was a warning to my Republican friends at the 2012 GOP convention to avoid the perils of Tampa’s famously video-camera-rich strip clubs on Dale Mabry Highway. The 2001, Thee Doll House, and others were given the roman-a-clef treatment as “Kitty McTitty’s Boom Boom Room.”

This is a state where Matt Gaetz somehow escaped charges in a case where he and his running-buddy Joel GreenburgVenmoed teenage hookers they allegedly shared. (Ew.) Gaetz and Greenberg are pictured below with some other guy:

Of course, if you lived in Tallahassee in the last decade, you knew about “The Game.”

What’s “The Game”? Matt and a cohort of young Republican legislators were in a running competition to fuck their way through Tallahassee’s lobbying corps, staff, and fellow legislators. I’ll let Business Insider’s summary suffice: Matt Gaetz's Florida sex game included a 'Harry Potter' challenge and 'extra points' for sleeping in sorority houses, a female Republican tells Insider.

Tallahassee is a town where people with vast sums of money and the best-quality drugs in the world swim in a sea of hypocritical social conservatism. Things like the DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the endless attacks on Disney have marked the last three legislative sessions with a roaring hostility to LGBT Floridians. It’s excellent odds some of the same people eager to call every drag queen a pedophile on the floor of the Florida House left the Governor’s Club to have their asses professionally beaten by a dominatrix or to sleep with an escort.

I’m a profound believer in personal liberty, writ large and small. I do not give a rat’s ass who you sleep with, what you do in your bedroom, or what makes you aroused, as long it’s not kids, pets, or non-consensual. “Don’t break the law or scare the livestock."

My problem with the Zieglers threefold; first, if the police reports are to be believed, it is alleged to have escalated into violence and rape. Even the suspicion of that is way outside the lines.

Sadly, as much as the broader story reflects on all their shallow personal and political hypocrisy, I think it also speaks to the broader culture of the abuse of power in my state; when you can easily abuse political power and personal power, the abuse of physical power becomes almost inevitable.

Second, these two were both eagerly and passionately interested in using the power of the state to control, marginalize, or criminalize how other consenting adults express their sexuality, either in words or in bed. Hell, I’m not gay, and I was offended by it.

Finally, it’s their fucking smug, shitty hypocrisy. Both of them were egregious trolls, smugly playing the nuclear Christian missionary position family values image and stoking a fake moral panic over “predatory gays.” I was looking for the right words about Bridget Ziegler today when a fantastic opinion piece by Fabiola Santiago asked the perfect question: If Moms for Liberty co-founder had sex with a woman, why is she targeting Florida’s gays?

I wish to God this story was just about Republican social conservative hypocrisy. I wish it were about a jackass and his wife getting busted in a basic-bitch sex scandal. Sadly, it also appears to be about violence and rape.

Both Zieglers must resign their posts.

A final note

As I was completing this article, news broke that a 911 tape from a friend of the woman who alleges Ziegler raped her was released. It’s not easy listening, as the friend relates the charges and outlines the woman’s deteriorating mental health in the wake of the alleged events. The Florida Center for Government Accountability, which has led the charge on this story, released the 911 call tape in its (properly) redacted form:

Listen: 911 tape released in criminal investigation of Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler. “She told me she was raped yesterday and she’s scared to leave her house.”