AP reports that in Sarasota, Florida, One member of the Florida school board was asked to step down on Tuesday because she is involved in the fallout from an investigation into her husband’s sexual assault by the state head of the Republican Party.
Even though the Sarasota County School Board can’t get rid of Bridget Ziegler directly, they did vote 4-1 on Tuesday for a motion asking her to step down. The board chair, Karen Rose, wrote the resolution. In an email, Rose said she was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the rape claims against Ziegler’s husband, Christian Ziegler, and the couple’s admissions of having a three-way sexual encounter with the accuser in the past.
“I personally care about Bridget and her family and deeply regret having to take this action,” Rose wrote. “But because she is under so much scrutiny by the media both locally and nationally, her continued presence on the Board would cause irreparable harm to our critical mission.”
Co-founder of the right-wing Moms for Liberty group is Bridget Ziegler. She has been on the board since 2014, when Gov. Rick Scott called her to it. She has also been its chair. She said she was “disappointed” with the vote against the motion, but she didn’t say she would step down. After the vote, she stayed on the board’s dais.
A group of about twelve people marched outside before the meeting, holding signs and shouting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Bridget Ziegler has got to go.” Words on the signs said things like “Ban Bridget, not books” and “Real women aren’t homophobes.”
Support Our Schools, a non-profit group that backs public schools, said, “Bridget Ziegler needs to say sorry and step down.” “The Zieglers are swindlers all the way through.”
Tim Enos, a board member, said that Bridget Ziegler should decide for herself if she wants to leave. A school board member can only be fired by Florida’s governor, and only in certain situations, like when someone is charged with a crime.
“If she stays and doesn’t quit, we all have a duty to be focused on education,” Enos said. “We need to leave the boardroom for good.” It should only be about the kids.”
A woman says Christian Ziegler raped her at her apartment in October, and the Sarasota Police Department is looking into her claim. The Ziegler family and the woman had planned to have a sexual threesome that day, but Bridget Ziegler was not able to make it. The papers say that the accuser says Christian Ziegler came anyway and beat her up.
The meeting between Christian Ziegler and the other person was voluntary, and he has not been charged with a crime. Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and other Republicans in Florida have asked him to step down as GOP chair, but he has refused.
Christian Ziegler recently sent a message to Republicans in Florida saying that he would stay as chair “because we have a country to save and I am not going to let false accusations of a crime put that mission on the bench while I wait for this process to end.”
Derek Byrd, Christian Ziegler’s lawyer, wrote in an email on Monday that he “hopes (the) investigation is closed soon.” The Sarasota Police Department said there is no set date for when the investigation will end.
Bridget Ziegler has been involved in Republican politics for a long time. She pushed for the DeSantis-backed rule called “Don’t Say Gay,” which limits what kids can learn about sexuality and gender in the first few grades. She helped start Moms for Liberty in 2021. The group’s goals are to bring more conservative ideas into schools, limit transgender rights, fight pandemic mask laws, and get books that the group doesn’t like taken out of school libraries and classes.
DeSantis also put Bridget Ziegler in charge of Walt Disney World’s operations in the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. After Disney spoke out against the “Don’t Say Gay” rule, DeSantis asked the Legislature to set up that panel to replace the one that Disney was in charge of. The board is being sued by both the state and the federal government over who should run the huge tourist park outside of Orlando.
Democrats and other critics say the Zieglers are dishonest because their supposedly sexual actions go against all the conservative ideas they push on other people, especially LGBTQ people.
State Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement, “The Zieglers have made it a habit to attack anything they see as going against ‘family values,’ whether it’s reproductive rights or the fact that there are LGBTQ+ people in Florida.” “I can’t believe how hypocritical people are in this case.”
The state GOP has called a meeting for Sunday in Orlando to talk about what will happen with Christian Ziegler as party chair.