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After Moms for Liberty endorsed a large number of winning school-board candidates in the 2022 midterms, it looked as though 2023 would be a banner year for the conservative group, which is best known for promoting anti-trans policies and book bans. Instead, most of its endorsed candidates were trounced last month in state elections, suggesting voters are becoming less interested in fighting the culture wars in schools. Now, the group may face an even more existential crisis with its co-founder embroiled in a sex scandal — not exactly a good look for a “parental rights” organization.
The scandal centers on a Florida Republican power couple, Bridget and Christian Ziegler. Late last month, police announced that Christian, the chair of the state GOP, was under investigation for an accusation of sexual battery that had allegedly taken place in October. An affidavit of the incident published by the watchdog group the Florida Center for Government Accountability is almost entirely redacted but does contain the word raped.
The unredacted affidavit also states that the Zieglers had a threesome at an earlier date with the unnamed accuser. On October 2, the trio planned to have another tryst, but when Bridget said she could not be there, the unnamed woman canceled. “Sorry, I was mostly in for her,” reads a text in the affidavit. The woman alleges that Christian arrived at her apartment without invitation and raped her; the alleged assault was reported to the police two days later, at which point a rape kit was completed, according to the affidavit. Christian has reportedly told detectives that the sex was consensual and that he uploaded a video of the encounter to his Google Drive, though police have not been able to find it despite issuing a search warrant to Google. On December 22, the Florida Center for Government Accountability reported that police have obtained a sex tape of Bridget Ziegler and an unidentified woman as part of their investigation into the battery allegation.
Amid the fallout over the allegation, Christian, a Trump ally, has faced calls for his resignation throughout the state, including from Governor Ron DeSantis. After Christian declined to resign, the Florida Republican Party voted in an emergency meeting on Sunday to suspend him, stripping him of nearly all his authority and cutting his salary to $1 — motions that could lead to another vote to oust him from his position as chair.
Bridget has also been resisting pressure to step down from her position on the Sarasota County School Board. (Moms for Liberty states that she has not been on the board since 2021.) Bridget, who helped write Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” banning gender discussions in elementary school, told the police that the sexual encounter in question happened “over a year ago and that it only happened one time,” according to the affidavit. Some teachers in Sarasota County are struggling to talk to students about the scandal, which could take down its most prominent public official. “The irony is crazy because you have this woman and her husband who are so concerned with preventing children from hearing anything that doesn’t totally align with their values,” substitute teacher Jessica Thomason told Mother Jones. “And then it’s like I’m having to explain a three-way to a 12-year-old this week.”