Hello, you join us in the middle of the ongoing culture war between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company. This week, DeSantis seems mad that people are (rightfully) claiming Disney outsmarted him and his cronies. And he’s promising to escalate the war between him and Disney with new taxes and more.
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Before we move forward, some quick background on this ongoing feud. The Reedy Creek Improvement District was established in Southern Florida in 1967. It was created because Walt Disney wanted more control of the area surrounding his then-soon-to-be-opened Walt Disney World resort. He had plans for a private city, and even after that never happened, the special district remained. Since then, Disney World hasn’t had to follow certain Florida laws, essentially giving the company its own mini-government. But after a 2022 spat between DeSantis and Disney over the company’s (tepid) support for LGBTQ rights, DeSantis used Florida House Bill 9B to restructure the district.
As part of this, he appointed a new board of directors to oversee the district. But upon showing up for its first meeting, the new board learned that, in its final hours, Disney’s outgoing board had legally given nearly all control over the district back to Disney. This greatly upset DeSantis who called the deal a “collusive and self-dealing” arrangement that “undercut Florida’s legislative process.” He also asked Florida’s authorities to investigate the situation. He was, in other words, big mad about fucking around and finding out with Disney’s lawyers.
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However, DeSantis isn’t done being mad or finished with his fight against Disney. As reported by Deadline, the Florida Commander in Chief visited Hillsdale College in Michigan on Thursday and spoke about the ongoing Disney battle, claiming that in the end he and the state would win.
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“What Disney has tried to do is they have tried to say that they should be able to operate outside the context of our constitutional system in Florida,” DeSantis said. “Now, we took this action prior to the election. We won overwhelmingly. They are not superior to the people of Florida. And so come hell or high water, we’re going to make sure that that policy of Florida carries the day, and so they can keep trying to do things, but ultimately, we’re going to win on every single issue involving Disney. I can tell you that.”
Deadline further reports that DeSantis seemed upset about media reports that Mickey Mouse’s company had “pulled one over on the state” which makes sense. When you get made a fool, you tend to not enjoy that experience. But DeSantis also suggested that legislation would “void anything” Disney’s board did before leaving. And also hinted at further punishments to levy against the company.
“Now that Disney has reopened this issue, we’re not just going to void the development agreement they tried to do, we’re going to look at things like taxes on hotels, we’re going to look at things like tolls on the roads, we’re going to look at things like developing some of the property that the district owns.”
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And let’s be clear: DeSantis isn’t going after Disney because he suddenly became an anti-capitalist who wants to destroy the company and make it pay its fair share in taxes. No, instead, as he explained during his Michigan visit, all of this was because Disney dared to speak up mildly against his horrible, fascist laws and policies against LGTBQ and trans people, including pushing schools to out students to their parents. State leader didn’t like that one bit, adding that he didn’t want Florida to be “subsidizing woke activism.”
“We just had to look at this and say, ‘OK, do they have a quote, First Amendment right to be advocating for gender ideology in Kindergarten? Yeah, I guess. Is that honestly faithful to their fiduciary duty to their shareholders? I don’t think so. But that’s not really in my wheelhouse as governor, but what I can tell you as governor is that under no circumstances should the state of Florida be subsidizing woke activism by allowing them to have their own government. So we took it away,” DeSantis said at the time.
It’s clear that Disney and DeSantis aren’t done yet and while I hate rooting for a giant corporation like Disney, I don’t mind seeing an asshole like DeSantis keep losing over and over again. And really, the only winners in all of this are (as usual) lawyers who bill by the hour.