Sex, barflies, and videotape: Report details how Florida GOP power couple prowled pubs for threesome partners 

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Bridget Ziegler
Bridget Ziegler via Sarasota School Board live stream. By: Josh Holton (12/13/2023)

by Bob Norman, Florida Trident

While Moms For Liberty cofounder Bridget Ziegler and her husband, former Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler, fight in court today to keep law enforcement records related to the latter’s closed rape investigation from public view, a recently released police report provides startling details about the disgraced couple’s sexual practices. 

The report, obtained by the Florida Trident and authored by Sarasota police Det. Angela Cox, recounts how Christian Ziegler went “on the prowl” in bars for women to bring home to Bridget, a Sarasota County School Board member who has backed a number of anti-LGBTQ measures at both the state and local level, for threesome encounters. While at the bars, Christian would surreptitiously photograph prospective women and text the photos to Bridget for approval, according to the report. 

Investigators found “numerous sexual videos” on Christian Ziegler’s phone involving the couple and other women, according to Cox’s report. The detective noted that it wasn’t clear if the women in the videos knew they were being recorded or not. 

Bridget and Christian Ziegler (Courtesy: Facebook).

“There were numerous text messages between Bridget and Christian where they are on the prowl for a female and Bridget is directing him to numerous different bars in search of a female that they are both interested in,” Cox wrote of the Ziegler phone contents. “During these conversations Christian is secretly taking photographs of women in the bars and sending them to Bridget asking her if she wants this one or that one. Bridget is telling him to pretend to take pictures of his beer, so they don’t see him taking pictures of them. She tells him ‘Don’t come home until your dick is wet.’” 

Sarasota police learned of the practice from a search of Christian Ziegler’s cell phone as part of their investigation into an allegation he sexually assaulted one of the couple’s threesome partners. The investigation ended in January with no charges filed. The police department forwarded a companion video voyeurism case alleging Ziegler unlawfully videotaped sex with the woman to the State Attorney’s Office, which declined to file charges. 

The texts are among those the couple is trying to block from public view in a lawsuit they filed against the Sarasota Police Department and State Attorney’s Office to block the release of certain investigative records in the rape case – which under Florida law are generally open to the public. In the lawsuit, the couple claims release of those records would cause “great humiliation and harm to their individual reputations” if released and therefore should be destroyed. The suit specifically addresses the contents of Christian Ziegler’s cell phone, his social media accounts, web browsing history, and the video he made of the sexual encounter with the alleged rape victim. 

The issue is being contested in court today, where the Florida Center for Government Accountability, publisher of the Trident, its director of public access, Michael Barfield, and other media outlets are arguing for release of all records contained in the police investigative file, which are considered public under Florida’s open records law. The hearing can be viewed live here.

Requests for comment left for Christian and Bridget Ziegler were not returned. 

Couple was “on the hunt” 

Police have also recovered text messages between Christian and Bridget regarding their prior relationship with the woman who alleged Christian raped her on Oct. 2 of last year. The woman had accepted an invitation for a threesome with Bridget but changed her mind when Christian told her that his wife wouldn’t be able to make it. Christian admitted to police  he arrived at her apartment anyway and had sex with the woman. She claimed she was too inebriated to consent and didn’t know he videotaped the sex act, according to police reports.

The woman further told detectives Ziegler “had been sexually battering her for years, and she never felt like she could say no to him.” She also told detectives Ziegler had entered her house on a prior occasion by climbing through an unlocked window. 

Posing with the former president in 2015. (Courtesy: Facebook)

The couple first engaged in a three-way sexual encounter with the woman roughly three years ago, according to police reports. Among the texts recovered from Christian’s phone was one on Feb. 19, 2021 in which he told Bridget to “come home, stop, and pick up [the woman] to play again and be crazy.” 

Christian further wrote to his wife that the woman “was an alcoholic, nice person with some issues” but with “no drama,” which “turns him on.” 

Bridget at the time was worried the couple was taking advantage of the woman. She wrote her husband that she “prefers confident empowered people” and was worried the woman was “going through some shit,” according to police documents.

“I just don’t want to feel like we ever take advantage of anyone (I know it’s always been consensual) but she seems … ‘broken,’” Bridget wrote her husband in 2021. “I don’t know – that’s the vibe I pick up from her – and my nature is more likely to help her versus … ya know.”

Christian Ziegler concluded that the couple needed “to hunt for somebody new.”

Bridget declares “war” over LGBTQ issues  

Revelations about the rape investigation, first reported by the Trident last fall, led to widespread accusations of hypocrisy by the Zieglers, who’ve espoused “family values,” consistently backed anti-LGBTQ measures, and played key roles in Florida’s culture wars. 

Bridget Ziegler not only co-founded Moms for Liberty, a group well-known for banning books with LGBTQ content in schools, but as a school board member backed several controversial resolutions aimed at gay and trans students in Sarasota County. A close ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis, she also helped craft the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

A Bridget Ziegler school board campaign ad.

As a result of the coverage of the rape allegation against Christian Ziegler and Bridget Ziegler’s own bisexual behavior, the former was removed from his state GOP chairmanship post and the latter left her executive-level job at the conservative non-profit Leadership Institute, where she oversaw a program to train conservative parents how to run for school board across the country. 

Despite large protests and widespread calls for her to resign her school board seat, Bridget Ziegler has held on to her elected position (as well as her post on the Disney World oversight board as a DeSantis appointee). And now, after several months of relative silence as the scandal raged, she’s squarely come back on the political offensive. 

At last week’s school board meeting, Ziegler introduced a highly contentious resolution to ignore protections for LGBTQ students afforded by a new federal Title IX rule. The resolution, which followed a DeSantis legal challenge to Title IX at the state level, claims the new rule would cause “disastrous impacts to girls and women’s safety in restrooms, locker rooms, and sports.” It passed by a 4-1 vote despite the fact it could lead to a federal investigation, expensive litigation, and the loss to the school district of roughly $50 million in federal funds. 

Nicole Walkowitz addresses the board (Credit: Sarasota Co. Schools)

“Why spend more of Florida taxpayer money on a stupid culture war you will not win against the federal government?” said Sarasota resident Nicole Walkowitz amid three hours of at times bitter public comment at the packed board meeting. “You are making us a pariah by bringing political theater into a school board meeting.”

School board member Tom Edwards, who cast the lone no vote against the resolution, complained that Ziegler’s rationale that she is protecting girls in bathrooms and dressing rooms carries with it an implication that transgender students are predators, a notion, Edwards says, is not borne out by fact. Ziegler underscored the issue of “safety” issue in a divisive Mother’s Day tweet.

“[W]e have a real war on our hands,” she wrote, “and we need every one of you ready to go to battle tomorrow & every day after that – our kids, especially our daughters, are counting on us!”

Edwards, the sole gay member of the board, said he believes the police investigation records should be released to the public. 

“She’s the one that’s the predator, she and her husband,” said Edwards. “Trans children are not predators. She says ‘don’t say gay’ and then she goes and crawls in bed with women. They’re supposed to be protecting children and they’re harming them.”

This article first appeared on Florida Trident and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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