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Florida GOP Chair, Whose Wife Co-Founded Moms for Liberty, Accused of Sexual Assault amid Ménage à Trois Scandal

The Sarasota County Police Department confirms to PEOPLE that there is an active investigation into Christian Ziegler

<p>Tamara Lush/AP Photo; Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty</p> Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler and his wife, Moms for Liberty cofounder Bridget Ziegler

Tamara Lush/AP Photo; Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty

Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler and his wife, Moms for Liberty cofounder Bridget Ziegler

Christian Ziegler, the head of Florida's Republican Party, is under criminal investigation following an allegation of sexual battery, the Sarasota County Police Department confirms to PEOPLE.

His accuser claims that she'd been in a consenting three-way sexual relationship with Christian and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, for some time leading up to the incident, according to the Florida Center for Government Accountability.

While Christian chairs the Florida GOP, Bridget sits on Sarasota County's school board and co-founded the far-right group Moms for Liberty, an organization that advocates against any mention of LGBTQ rights, race, ethnicity, critical race theory, or discrimination in school curriculum. Though no longer with Moms for Liberty, Bridget was one of the driving forces behind Florida's divisive "Don't Say Gay" legislation.

A heavily redacted report provided by the Sarasota PD reveals that an anonymous person accused Christian — whose name is concealed on the document — of sexual battery on Oct. 4 at a home in Sarasota. The word "raped" is included in the report, though its context is also redacted.

<p>Tom Williams/CQ Roll Cal</p>

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Cal

According to the report, an officer responded to the complaint on the same day it is alleged to have occurred.

The Florida Center for Government Accountability — which first broke the story — reports that a search warrant was executed on Christian's cell phone, and that he is alleged to "have secretly videotaped the sexual encounters between the couple and the woman," according to police sources. 

Related: Lawmaker Who Sponsored Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Sentenced to Four Months in Federal Prison for Loan Fraud

The allegations are startling not just for their context but for the impact they could have on Florida politics, as the Zieglers have been integral in politicizing conversations around sex and sexual orientation. Both Christian, 40, and Bridget, 41, are close allies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now running for president, and his wife, Casey DeSantis.

The "Don't Say Gay" bill they helped spearhead, formally titled "Parental Rights in Education," blocks the classroom discussion of certain LGBTQ topics "in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." The measure was first signed into law to govern grades K-3 and later expanded to apply to grades 4 through 12, as well.

The law has received widespread, national backlash, with critics saying it could have adverse effects on an already marginalized community.

<p>Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty </p> Floridians protest the state's education policies outside Orlando City Hall on April 21, 2023

Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Floridians protest the state's education policies outside Orlando City Hall on April 21, 2023

The original bill ignited a feud between DeSantis and Disney World when the company expressed opposition to the polarizing measure.

The bill "should never have passed and should never have been signed into law," the Walt Disney Company said in a statement March 28. "Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the Legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that."

The governor responded, attacking Disney as "woke" and saying in a fundraising email that the iconic company "lost any moral authority to tell you what to do."

Related: Ron DeSantis Moves to Apply Florida's Restrictive 'Don't Say Gay' Law in High School Classrooms

DeSantis then asked legislators to consider terminating the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special zone enacted in 1967 that gives the company special privileges, including tax exemptions and certain autonomies like providing its own fire, police and other services such as building and maintaining roads, The New York Times reported.

State lawmakers voted in favor of stripping the company of its control of the district, and DeSantis signed the measure into law in February. When he did, he installed five new board members to oversee the district — one of whom was Bridget Ziegler.

DeSantis also personally endorsed Bridget for her current school board seat.

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Bridget's work in shaping Florida education has been used as a template of sorts for Republicans elsewhere. Last year, she was named vice president of the conservative nonprofit group Leadership Institute, where she oversees the training of others interested in running for school boards throughout the country.

On a campaign website, she describes her platform as one that advocates for "sexual education focused on biology, not pleasure or gender theory."

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

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