The rich irony of a Moms for Liberty co-founder caught in a Florida sex scandal | Column
“Who knew ‘traditional values’ included setting up a ménage à trois,” writes columnist Daniel Ruth.
Attendees leave a session during the Moms for Liberty National Summit Friday, July 15, 2022 in Tampa.
Attendees leave a session during the Moms for Liberty National Summit Friday, July 15, 2022 in Tampa. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]
Published Dec. 5, 2023|Updated Dec. 5, 2023

Can we all admit an uncomfortable, but obvious truth?

Spoiler alert: This is the part where sex canoodles with politics and more pointedly, hypocrisy.

Daniel Ruth
Daniel Ruth [ Tampa Bay Times ]

When you learned holier-than-thou Florida Republican Party Chairman Christian Ziegler, his sanctimonious wife, Sarasota School Board member Bridget Ziegler and a yet unnamed other woman had engaged in thrupleism your first reaction was somewhere along the lines of: (A) Oh now, we’re doomed (B) Yeah, so?, (C) Duh.

By now we have all pretty well figured out the greater the Bible-thumping in the hands of a pol, the greater the likelihood we’re merely one grope away from a Jerry Springer Show moment.

In time, we’ll find out if Chairman Ziegler did indeed sexually assault the unnamed woman. He has denied raping the woman, and an investigation is underway. But we do know the Zieglers and the woman consummated the friendship on at least one occasion about a year before the alleged crime occurred. And we have also learned Ziegler, who chairs a party that loves to caterwaul about “family values,” recorded the liaison.

 Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida Republican Party.
Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida Republican Party. [ Associated Press (2017) ]
Bridget Ziegler is a member of the Sarasota County School Board.
Bridget Ziegler is a member of the Sarasota County School Board. [ Facebook ]

What might we call this cinematic achievement? “Bridget Does Sarasota”?

It’s probably worth reminding everyone, it was Bridget Ziegler who was a founder of “Moms for Liberty,” which is sort of the template for the worst next-door neighbor from hell who roots through your garbage and tells everyone how many wine bottles are in your trash.

Mrs. Ziegler inveighed against anything remotely gay showing up on school library shelves. Moms for Liberty promoted parental control in schools and championed traditional values. Who knew “traditional values” included setting up a ménage à trois, unless you’re Madonna?

Almost immediately after the salacious and potentially criminal revelations went public Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a brief break from his presidential delusion tour to call for Christian Ziegler to step down as state GOP chairman.

As of this writing, Ziegler has said he has no intention of stepping aside. And really, why should he? Sure, if no crime took place and it was just eXXXtramarital hanky-panky, that’s not a good look. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that down in Sarasota this sort of sheet rustling is considered as common as a fist-bump.

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After all, the notion of a powerful (for now) phony couple getting funky with an added member to the team hardly tarnishes the brand of a political party that has shown all the moral spine of Shakespeare’s Iago meets George Santos. The House of Representatives is now lead by Louisiana’s Mike Johnson an evangelical Christian who has managed to invoke God’s name even when he orders coffee. But this champion of the Good Book had no problem serving Satan when he conspired to overturn the legitimate 2020 election of Joe Biden.

Nor has he distanced himself from Donald Trump, who has bragged about groping women, was found liable in a civil sexual assault case, been indicted on four felonies involving over 90 counts, been divorced twice, had affairs with a porn star and Playboy model, cheated and lied his way through his single term in the White House and has called the men and women who died for this country “losers.”

And all of that is just fine for Speaker Johnson. How Elmer Gantry of you.

By Trump’s standards on what passes for morality, Mr. and Mrs. Ziegler come off as The Beaver’s parents. “Say, Mrs. Cleaver, you look lovely in that bustier.”

Did the Zieglers get somewhat frisky? Sure. Are they shameless hypocrites? This is even a question?

But they are merely loyal footsie soldiers in a party populated by the sleazy likes of Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren “The Fondler” Boebert and perhaps the best for last, Jim Jordan, who has steadfastly declined to cooperate with an investigation into the sexual assault of Ohio State University wrestlers by a team doctor when he was a coach.

When he was House speaker, Newt Gingrich relentlessly attacked President Bill Clinton for his infidelities, while carrying on his own affair.

If after the law enforcement investigation concludes and should Christian Ziegler face criminal sexual assault charges, he’s going to have more profound worries than the chairmanship of a tawdry political party.

The condescending, self-righteous Christian and Bridget Ziegler aren’t extreme outliers in the Republican Party. They are simply a mirror reflecting an enabling GOP that long ago lost its way when it willingly appeased its worst figure.

Well, okay, this mirror is glued to a ceiling, but you get the idea.