Florida governor Ron DeSantis accused Disney of trying to “commandeer our democratic process,” while touting a new bill to strip the company of its autonomous governing status during a Friday interview on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight.
“They pledged themselves to mobilize their considerable corporate resources out of the coffers of this Burbank, California, based corporation to overturn the rights of parents in the state of Florida—effectively commandeer our democratic process,” DeSantis added. “That obviously is something we very much objected to.”
DeSantis signed a bill earlier on Friday dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the autonomous zone outside of Orlando where Disney established Walt Disney World. The district, created in 1967, allowed Disney to act as a self-governing body with its own municipal services and building codes.
“This company had a deal unlike any company or individual in all of the state of Florida, probably anywhere in the United States. They were self-governing, they had extraordinary powers, they could build nuclear power plants, they didn’t have to go through permitting processes and obviously a lot of tax benefits. And that’s just inappropriate,” DeSantis told Carlson.
The Florida legislature passed the bill earlier this week, after Disney took a stance against another state law banning classroom instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade, which opponents have termed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Disney CEO Bob Chapek wrote in a letter to employees in March that the company would suspend political donations in Florida over the law.
“Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states,” Chapek wrote in the letter. “And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”
Some segments of the left “figured out that they can try to subcontract out their leftism to some of these corporations,” DeSantis told Carlson in the Friday interview. “Their hope was getting Disney involved in that would somehow get me to back down from signing the bill. Well, that was bad judgment on their part because of course we weren’t going to back down an inch.”