Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been engaged in a long-running feud with the Walt Disney Co., among his state’s largest taxpayers.
The feud started when Disney executives spoke out against what critics call Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation. In response to the criticism, DeSantis led an effort to strip Disney of its status as a special tax district, under which it has been able to develop and maintain its theme parks with relative independence. He also created a new board to oversee the district, handpicking its members.
Then, Disney’s lawyers outwitted him by striking a deal with its allies on the outgoing board. As part of that agreement, the company largely maintained control of the district, and the new board was rendered essentially powerless.
The spat has continued, with the new board nullifying that agreement at DeSantis’s direction. Most recently, Disney sued DeSantis and the board for waging a “targeted campaign to weaponize government power” over the company.
It’s widely believed that DeSantis is gearing up for a potential 2024 presidential campaign. But his efforts to punish Disney for being “woke” have created something of a political headache, with his potential GOP primary opponents, including former President Donald Trump and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, using the battle to go on the attack. At this point, DeSantis is probably in too deep to retreat.
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