DeSantis’ Disney Board Will Countersue the Mouse
While Donald Trump may be prospective 2024 candidate Ron DeSantis’ greatest political rival, the Florida Governor’s mind is currently consumed by a much wilier foe: Mickey Mouse.
DeSantis’ feud with the Walt Disney Company has escalated into a full first amendment lawsuit brought by the company against the governor. The entertainment giant moved to sue the governor and other state officials last week, alleging the DeSantis administration waged a “campaign of government retaliation” against Disney in violation of the company’s right to free speech.
Now a board packed with DeSantis loyalists, installed by the governor to meddle in the affairs of the company’s Florida park, has launched a countersuit against Disney.
The dispute stems over DeSantis’ move to seize control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District from Disney. Reedy Creek was established as a special taxing district for the Disney World Park in 1967, and allowed the company to act as a county government within a 39-square-mile area covering the resort. The company could collect local taxes and had the ability to manage its own police, fire, and emergency medical services, utilities, as well as establish land regulations and building codes.
In February, the governor stripped Disney of its control of the district after the company publicly opposed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The move allowed DeSantis to replace the district’s existing board with a new body of his own appointees, but in a last minute decision Disney’s outgoing board passed a resolution crippling the board of many of its powers.
The new countersuit filed by the board alleges that the outgoing committee made an “eleventh hour deal” that violates “basic principles of Florida constitutional, statutory, and common law.”
But while DeSantis may be hell-bent on conquering the Magic Kingdom, other prominent Republicans have cast doubt on how beneficial picking a fight with Disney will be in the long run.
Presidential candidate Nikki Haley said she would gladly introduce Disney’s executives to South Carolina’s government leadership if they no longer found Florida a hospitable location for their park. New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu said the Disney debacle “convolutes the entire Republican message,” and was hurting both DeSantis and the party.
Even Trump has weighed in on the matter. On Truth Social, the former president wrote that Disney could retaliate by taking its business elsewhere. Desantis is being “absolutely destroyed by Disney,” Trump wrote, “In the meantime, this is all so unnecessary, a political STUNT!”