The Moms for Liberty (M4L) webpage states, “Our founders are Tiffany and Tina, moms on a mission to stoke the fires of liberty.” But in truth, the founders are Tiffany Justice, Tina Descovich, and Bridget Ziegler—the third co-founder of M4L who stepped down from her leadership position in the organization in February 2021—and while the group claims to “stoke the fires of liberty,” its founders, and now its members, have instead blazed a years-long trail of harassment, intimidation, and scandal that has led to its designation as an anti-government extremist group by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. So, who are the “moms” who founded the organization?
Bridget Ziegler is perhaps the most well-known of the three but not for any heartwarming reason.
In 2023, she became embroiled in a sex scandal in which her husband, Christian Ziegler—who was ousted as Florida Republican Party Chairman in January 2024—is being investigated for rape. (Police did not proceed with a sexual assault case against him, but prosecutors are reviewing evidence that he taped a sexual encounter with the victim without her knowledge.)
The alleged victim is well known to the Zieglers; Bridget confirmed that she had a threesome with Christian and the woman (although she now denies she had knowledge of the more recent alleged ménage à trois).
There is no one as holier-than-thou as Bridget, who built her political career on traumatizing LGBTQ+ children. She “helped craft and championed” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Meanwhile, Bridget has remained actively involved in the functioning of Moms for Liberty. She continues to be on the M4L advisory board where she serves with James Lindsay also known, according to Tiffany Justice, as the “Lady Killer.” Claire Goforth of the Daily Dot reported in November 2022 that Lindsay attempted to suppress a picture of him doing the man-spread pose with actress Nicki Clyne, a former member of the NXIVM sex cult.
Bridget Ziegler was reelected to the Sarasota Florida County School Board in 2022 with campaign help from the Proud Boys; she even posed with two Proud Boys attending her election night victory celebration.
As chair of the Sarasota board, Bridget Ziegler refused to shut down a speaker during a public comment session in March 2023 who accused her colleague Tom Edwards, the board’s only openly gay member, of being a “groomer” and a “danger” to children. Edwards walked out of the meeting to spare county students the spectacle. The Daily Beast concluded that “The Zieglers have… tag-teamed to inflame homophobia across Florida.”
After a board hearing was held in December 2023 to seek Bridget’s resignation, a former Sarasota County student Zander Moricz’s testimony calling on Bridget to resign went viral. Many people focused on his message that Ziegler should not resign over her private sex life, but she should resign because she’s bad at being a school board member. Moricz, who is gay, recounted, “Bridget, our first-ever interaction was when you retweeted a hate article against me from the Nationalist when I was a Sarasota County school student.”
Tina Descovich is not a gracious loser, as she proved after her 2020 defeat to Jennifer Jenkins for reelection to the school board seat in Brevard County, Florida. Sarah Mueller of WSFU, who spoke to Jenkins, reported that when she assumed her seat on the board, “members of Moms for Liberty started showing up at school board meetings right after that election ‘and I had people following me around, following me to my car, following me to my car screaming at me.’” She also received death threats.
When the board updated its existing LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies, including allowing students to play on sports teams that reflect their gender identity and letting students decide if the school could provide information to parents about their sexual orientation, Descovich posted the updated guidance on her Facebook page and, as Jenkins said to Mueller, “That’s when it got crazy at out (sic) school board meetings. I mean, she [Descovich] riled up the craziest of the crazies.”
Riling up the “crazies” was just the beginning. Here’s how Jenkins described the continued attack against her in a commentary she wrote for the Washington Post in October 2021:
“My 5-year-old daughter was on a play date last month when an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families sat at my kitchen table to question me about how I disciplined her, then accompanied me to the play date to check for nonexistent burn marks beneath her clothes. Someone had falsely reported that I abused my child. The report was quickly dismissed, but this was the low point in the short time I have been a Brevard County School Board member.”
Jenkins continued, describing how M4L members were massing at school board meetings and threatening her at her home:
“Young children, accompanied by their parents, shouted into megaphones, ‘Don’t touch me, pedophiles!’ LGBTQ students tried to speak while adults chanted ‘Shame!’”
“By April, protesters had begun to gather not just at board meetings but also in front of my house. A group of about 15 shouted ‘Pedophiles!’ as my neighbors walked their dogs, pushing their infants in strollers. ‘We’re coming for you,’ they yelled, mistaking friends standing on my porch for me and my husband. ‘We’re coming at you like a freight train! We are going to make you beg for mercy. If you thought January 6 was bad, wait until you see what we have for you!’”
Tiffany Justice was a one-term school board member in Indian River County, Florida. In July 2023 VeroNews’s Ray McNulty wrote about Justice’s disastrous term:
“Justice regularly provoked conflict and stirred controversy with petty antics and snarky remarks that… dragged the board into crippling dysfunction. … Throughout her term, Justice proved she was ill-equipped for—and overmatched by—a job that required more than simply caring about children. She lacked the maturity to handle scrutiny and the mettle to absorb criticism, whether from the public, other board members, or the local press.”
VeroNews captured Justice’s unique approach to civil rights issues in a report by Kathleen Sloan in 2018: “The Indian River County Chapter of the NAACP is asking the School Board to rein in one of its members, Tiffany Justice, who has taken over the African American Achievement Plan Core Committee in violation of board policy and the Open Meetings Act.”
In response to a request for comment by the news website, “Vice Chairman Charles Searcy said in an email he was ‘very disappointed a Board member and a high-level District employee would team up to intimidate the African American Achievement committee,’” Sloan reported. “‘This District used to be controlled by unacceptable strong-arm intimidation tactics and I certainly hope this is not the method of operation we are headed for.’”
Justice continued her “disruptive” ways even after she was no longer part of the board. Vero News’s George Andreassi reported in April 2021:
“County public school administrators are investigating an incident at Beachland Elementary in early April in which former School Board member Tiffany Justice has been accused of angrily disrupting classrooms and flouting the board’s mandatory face mask policy.”
“Two Beachland Elementary fifth-grade teachers last week begged the School Board for help coping with the fallout from the parental rights advocate’s confrontational behavior during the week of April 5.”
One of the teachers described Justice’s “constant threatening and bullying tactics.” VeroNews reported in May 2021 that after a school board investigation, “School Superintendent David Moore warned she could be barred from the campus.”
Justice affirmed Moms for Liberty’s position regarding a chapter head quoting Hitler in a newsletter: “One of our moms in a newsletter quotes Hitler. I stand with that mom.”
It All Starts at the Top
Moms for Liberty routinely denies any misbehavior.
In 2023, when Vice News reported examples of the group “[conducting] orchestrated harassment campaigns against individuals, that’s resulted in many fearing for their safety and, in some cases, their lives,” the organization directed the reporter to “a press release” that stated, “We strongly reject any attempts to portray our members as violent or threatening.”
Moms for Liberty members take their cues from their leaders.
In 2023, Media Matters wrote about an extensive pattern of threats and harassment emanating from the group that included “threatening gun violence against librarians, accusing opposing groups of being ‘pedophile sympathizers,’ and even hijacking a dead woman’s Facebook page to lead a harassment campaign against a mother who opposed the group’s efforts.”
It all starts at the top: with Bridget Ziegler, Tina Descovich, and Tiffany Justice.
This article was produced by Our Schools.
Maurice Cunningham PhD, JD, retired in 2021 as an associate professor of political science at the College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and is the author of Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization.
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