The crashing and burning of Moms for Liberty co-founder, the Florida GOP and Ron DeSantis
Bridget Ziegler helped Ron DeSantis write the "don't say gay" law. Now she's admitted to consensual sex with a woman who's accused her husband of rape. The scandal threatens to bring them all down.
Bridget Ziegler (left) with Casey DeSantis at the launch of Mamas for DeSantis. Photo publicly posted on Ziegler’s Facebook page.
A chapter of the virulently anti-LGBTQ Moms for Liberty in far-off Pennsylvania is disbanding—with some members creating a different group under a different name—in response to the bombshell out of Florida that sent shockwaves across the country: Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler admitted to Sarasota police that she had sex with another woman, while her husband, Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler, has been accused of raping the same woman.
The Pennsylvania chapter’s actions are just one example of how the scandal is rocking an organization that began in Florida but now has 285 chapters in 45 states as of July 2023 and has already faced a stinging national defeat as Moms for Liberty-backed school board candidates lost big in states across the country this past Election Day—from Iowa and Minnesota to Pennsylvania and even Florida itself—as concerned parents organized to defeat this monstrous threat.
The last thing Moms for Liberty needed was a sex scandal that exposed the rot at their core and the duplicity the group is built upon, which its opponents can now point to in school board races moving forward. But that’s what they got.
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And the Florida GOP is in turmoil that is not going away any time soon.
There have been calls for Christian Ziegler—who’s not been charged but has been under investigation for two months—to resign, including from Governor Ron DeSantis, as his presidential campaign, already destabilized as he trails Donald Trump by 40 points in polls, is now dealt another blow. DeSantis has been very closely associated with both Zeiglers and even endorsed Bridget Ziegler for re-election to the Sarasota County School Board, something she proudly blares from the top of her web page.
Christian Ziegler is defiant, so far refusing to step down even as a few Republican legislators in the state have demanded his resignation, joining DeSantis—which exposes DeSantis as exceedingly weak (in addition to being a hypocrite who has no problem with Donald Trump running for president with 91 felony charges and having been found liable for rape). It’s true MAGA form, a la Trump and even George Santos: never quit, no matter how corrupt they expose you to be.
But think about it: Even if the rape allegations are not true, Ziegler, a culture warrior and someone who holds himself and his wife up as moral Christians, admitted to police that he had consensual sex with a woman other than his wife and was in a three-way with two women. He claims that the woman, with whom he and his wife Bridget had sex together last year—something Bridget Ziegler confirmed to police—had consensual sex with him when he went to her home two months ago.
(The woman, per police reports and court records, said she agreed to have sex with both of them again, but when Bridget couldn’t make it at the last minute, she canceled, telling Christian Ziegler, “I was mostly in it for her.” That's when, she alleges, he barged into her home shortly thereafter and raped her without a condom.)
The fact that the religious-morality-obsessed GOP would accept Christian Ziegler staying on, promoting family values as an admitted adulterer and menage e trois enthusiast even if he didn’t commit rape—and that he would expect them to—shows how devoid of morality and delusional the MAGA-crazed GOP in Florida truly is.
Bridget Ziegler, meanwhile, is right now still the chair of the Sarasota County School Board, a radical board that was once liberal but which she and other Moms for Liberty-backed extremists took over, leaving only one liberal on the five-person board, a gay man, Thomas Edwards.
This woman not only created the group that injected hate into schools, viciously attacking LGBTQ children, teachers, and parents, and spurring the banning of books in districts across America; Bridget Zeigler also helped Ron Desantis write his “don't say gay” law.
And she was standing right behind DeSantis while he signed the law—a law that demonizes children and parents who are no different from her.
Ron DeSantis prepares to sign the “don’t say gay” bill into law last year, with Bridget Ziegler, who helped write it, standing behind him (upper right.)
Whether she identifies as bisexual or not—and I couldn’t give a damn who she has sex with or how she identifies, if not for the hypocrisy—she was living a complete lie while harming others. Ziegler and her husband, using his influence as GOP chair, then promoted the expansion of the law earlier this year, making it even more restrictive and applying it not just to lower grades but for high school students as well.
DeSantis, who, with his wife Casey—bedecked in her 1950s dresses and evening gloves—has molded his image and their marriage as a traditional Christian marriage from some bygone era (which never actually existed), And they did this in tandem with their power couple friends, the Zieglers, culture warriors who DeSantis used—and who used DeSantis—to build up their stature and their clout, positioning themselves as morally superior, casting judgment on other people’s lives.
Christian Zeigler, as GOP chair, kept a tight grip on Republicans in the state, keeping them behind DeSantis as DeSantis bolstered Ziegler’s power. Ziegler, as a political consultant, worked to help re-elect DeSantis and worked on his presidential campaign. DeSantis appointed Bridget Ziegler as one of the five members of the board he created—the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District—when he passed a law stripping Disney of its self-control and putting it under the control of the newly created board.
And there was Bridget Ziegler with Casey DeSantis, as the governor’s wife kicked off her extremist “Mamas for DeSantis” group late last year. (Casey DeSantis later launched a national “Mamas for DeSantis” group to help her husband’s sagging presidential bid, including a video that was criticized as being grotesquely homophobic and transphobic.) Ziegler wrote on her Facebook page:
It was an incredible honor to host Florida’s First Lady in Sarasota on her Mamas for DeSantis tour, where over 300 people packed the room from Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Lee, & Collier County - all pumped up and ready to work our tails off to ensure a re-election victory for America’s Greatest Governor, Governor Ron DeSantis!
But now the whole house of cards has collapsed. Ron and Casey DeSantis are running as fast as they can from the Zieglers—they have enough problems with Ron’s floundering campaign, and this could just do it in—but the Zieglers are defiant and refuse to get off the stage.
There have been calls for Bridget Ziegler to resign from the Sarasota County School Board. Florida GOP State Rep. Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers said not only that Christian Ziegler should resign “immediately” as GOP chair, but Bridget Ziegler should step down from the Sarasota school board, according to Florida Politics.
But it doesn’t seem Bridget Ziegler is going anywhere either—at least not yet—which is astounding as she has, again, admitted to having sex with a woman while she has demonized queer people as “groomers” in the role she’s serving in.
The Florida GOP has adapted to duplicity and weathered scandals—it was, after all, re-crafted by Ron DeSantis—so it’s hard to know if any of this will change the GOP there. But it’s certainly another opening for Democrats to drive home yet another issue that shows the GOP isn’t interested in governing as it promotes lies and hate.
And whether the Zieglers step down or not, it does look like their careers are going nowhere now—which is a good thing—as they’re now both radioactive. Surely Christian Ziegler was looking at running for higher office, and so was Bridget Zielger. Both were grooming themselves—and being groomed—within Florida’s GOP and hoping DeSantis would be a big boost for them in the future. But not only is DeSantis’ influence waning as the presidential run craters; he’s called on Ziegler to resign, and clearly there’s now a lot of bad blood.
Bridget, meanwhile, is an uber-hypocrite who now has nothing to run on since smearing LGBTQ people was her one issue. It’s an understatement to say her credibility is completely shot. And Moms for Liberty chapters across the country will continue to face the fallout, in addition to the resistance from an organized base of parents opposed to their extreme agenda and who will have more ammunition. It couldn't have happened to a better bunch.