Chairman of Florida Republican Party Is Ousted Amid Scandal

The Republican Party of Florida ousted its chairman on Monday, more than a month after the police in Sarasota confirmed that he was under criminal investigation for sexual assault.

For weeks, Christian Ziegler, the chairman, resisted calls for him to step down, keeping the scandal in the headlines and exasperating Republicans who insisted that he could not survive the political repercussions of such a serious accusation. In mid-December, the state party’s executive committee censured Mr. Ziegler and stripped him of his duties and annual salary of $120,000 after Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senator Rick Scott and some county-level Republican chairs had urged him to go.

Mr. Ziegler was removed by a voice vote of about 200 party members during a meeting in Tallahassee. Only a handful opposed the motion, which included a statement saying that Mr. Ziegler was no longer a member in good standing with the party.

He was replaced by Evan Power, the head of the Leon County Republican Party in Tallahassee, who had been the state party’s vice chairman. Mr. Ziegler did not attend the meeting and did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

The police in Sarasota, where Mr. Ziegler lives, said in late November that he was under investigation. A woman accused Mr. Ziegler of raping her in October, according to a police report and a search warrant affidavit.

Mr. Ziegler, 40, who has not been charged, has denied wrongdoing. He told the police that he had consensual sex with the woman on Oct. 2, according to the affidavit. Her name has been redacted from public records.

The woman told the police that she had had a consensual sexual encounter with Mr. Ziegler and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, more than a year ago, but that she had declined to have sex with Mr. Ziegler on Oct. 2 after realizing that his wife would not be joining them.

Mr. Ziegler then went to her apartment uninvited, the woman told the police, and sexually assaulted her. He told the police that he had filmed the encounter. They obtained search warrants for Mr. Ziegler’s cellphone and his Google account, according to the affidavit. Mr. Ziegler is also being investigated for video voyeurism, according to the Florida Center for Government Accountability, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and first reported on the criminal investigation.

The investigation also led to calls for Ms. Ziegler, an elected member of the Sarasota County School Board, to step down over perceived hypocrisy between her private life and public persona. The board itself called for Ms. Ziegler to resign last month, saying that the drama engulfing her and her husband had become too much of a distraction. Ms. Ziegler was the only member to vote against the nonbinding resolution; she has remained on the board.

Ms. Ziegler, 41, is a conservative activist who has promoted anti-L.G.B.T.Q. policies in schools and co-founded the right-wing group Moms for Liberty. She confirmed to the police that she had taken part in the prior sexual encounter with the woman, according to the affidavit.

The Republican Party of Florida, like many other state parties, has lost some of the influence it once had, as national and state candidates have started their own political operations largely separate from the legacy party structure. But the Zieglers held sway as a political power couple in Sarasota, a hotbed of right-wing activism.

Mr. Ziegler was elected party chairman in February, in a race that pitted him against Mr. Power. Mr. Ziegler was seen as an ally of former President Donald J. Trump, while Mr. Power was more closely aligned with Mr. DeSantis. Mr. Power was then chosen as the party’s vice chairman.

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