Zeigler completed his bachelor's degree in public administration at the University of Alabama, and served as president of the University of Alabama Student Government Association in 1970-1971. He was elected without backing from "The Machine", the powerful political operation of the university's Greek-letter organizations. The Machine did back a failed bid to impeach him shortly before the end of his term. After the University Court cleared him of the charges, his room in the Mallet Hall dormitory was damaged by an unexplained fire. He completed his law degree at Faulkner University's Jones School of Law in 1978.
Zeigler was elected to the Public Service Commission in 1974, and ran unsuccessfully for PSC president in 1976. He did not run for re-election in 1978, instead campaigning unsuccessfully for a seat on the Alabama Board of Education. He also ran without success for the Alabama Supreme Court in 1982, for Alabama State Treasurer in 1986, for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in 1996, for a return to the Public Service Commission in 1998, and for State Auditor in 2002. Until 2006 he chaired two political action committees (PACs), the Conservative Christians of Alabama and the League of Christian Voters.
In the 2014 Republican Primary, Zeigler defeated Dale Peterson, Adam Thompson and Hobie Sealy to win the nomination for State Auditor, then beat Democrat Miranda Joseph in the general election. While in office he filed a lawsuit against Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange and the Baldwin County School System, claiming that they improperly used taxpayer funds to conduct political campaigns. Both suits were dismissed. Later he joined Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources commissioner Charley Grimsley in suing to prevent the use of funds from the state's settlement with BP over damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to develop resort-style conference and lodging facilities at Gulf State Park.
In March 2016 he filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission accusing Governor Robert Bentley and his adviser, Rebekah Mason, of misusing state funds to conduct and conceal an extramarital affair. He also filed a legal challenge to Bentley's stated plan not to hold a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions' appointment as Attorney General of the United States, allowing his appointee, Strange, to hold office until after the regular 2018 general election. The issue remained unresolved until new Governor Kay Ivey scheduled a special election for December 2017. Zeigler retired from the practice of law before running for re-election in 2018.
Zeigler has repeatedly brought controversy for his associations and public statements, such as his appearances before the League of the South, his comparison of female congressional representatives who wore white to President Trump's first State of the Union in support of women's rights to members of the Ku Klux Klan, and his pseudo-theological justifications for Senate candidate Roy Moore's alleged interest in teenaged girls while serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Etowah County.
In 2019 Zeigler wrote and self-published a fantasy novel in which he imagines himself defeating Doug Jones in the 2020 US Senate election and hosting an Alabama-themed parade and banquet in Washington D.C.
Zeigler and his wife, Jackie have two children, Win and Maggie.
- Zeigler, Jim (2019) The Unseating of Unrepresentative U.S. Sen. Doug Jones 2020 self-published. ISBN 9780359634781
- "Jim Zeigler, Alabama's new auditor, vows 'there is a new sheriff in Montgomery'." (January 11, 2015) Associated Press
- "Jim Zeigler" (April 23, 2018) Wikipedia - accessed June 3, 2018
- Cason, Mike (June 1, 2018) "Jim Zeigler voluntarily surrenders law license, says he's retired as attorney." The Birmingham News