A Florida school board voted on Tuesday to recommend the resignation of one of its members because she is embroiled in the fallout of a sexual assault investigation into her husband, the Republican Party state chairman.
The Sarasota County School Board cannot directly remove Bridget Ziegler from the panel but voted 4-1 Tuesday for a resolution requesting that she step down. The resolution was authored by board Chair Karen Rose, who said in an email that she is “shocked and deeply saddened” by the rape allegations involving Ziegler's husband, Christian Ziegler, and the couple's admissions about having a three-way sexual encounter previously with the accuser.
“I personally care about Bridget and her family and deeply regret the necessity for this course of action, but given the intense media scrutiny locally and nationally, her continued presence on the Board would cause irreparably harmful distractions to our critical mission,” Rose wrote.
Bridget Ziegler is co-founder of the conservative Moms for Liberty group. She has served on the board since 2014, when she was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott, and has previously been its chair. She voted against the resolution, saying she was “disappointed” but gave no indication she would step down. She remained on the board's dais after the vote.
Prior to the meeting, several dozen people marched outside carrying signs and chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Bridget Ziegler has got to go." Among the signs' slogans were “Ban Bridget, not books” and “Real women aren’t homophobes.”
Board member Tim Enos said it's up to Bridget Ziegler to decide whether to quit. Only Florida's governor can remove a school board member, and only under certain conditions, such as a criminal charge.
“If she continues and doesn’t resign and stays, we have an obligation that we all need to be focused on education,” Enos said. "The politics have to get outside the boardroom. It should be only about the kids.”
The Sarasota Police Department is investigating a woman's accusation that Christian Ziegler raped her at her apartment in October. Police documents say the Zieglers and the woman had planned a sexual threesome that day, but Bridget Ziegler was unable to make it. The accuser says Christian Ziegler arrived anyway and assaulted her, according to the documents.
Christian Ziegler has not been charged with any crime and maintains his innocence, contending the encounter was consensual. Scott, now a U.S. senator, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Florida Republicans have called on him to step down as GOP chair, but he has refused to do so.
In a recent message to Florida Republicans, Christian Ziegler said he would remain as chair "because 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.”
Christian Ziegler's lawyer, Derek Byrd, said in an email Monday that he is “hoping (the) investigation is closed soon.” A Sarasota Police Department spokesperson said there is no timetable for the probe to conclude.
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