Disney sues DeSantis, calling park takeover ‘retaliatory’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Disney on Wednesday sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the Republican takeover of its theme park district, alleging the governor waged a “targeted government retaliatory campaign” after the company opposed an appeal from critics of the law “Don’t say gay.”

The lawsuit was filed in Tallahassee minutes after a Disney World supervisory board nominated by DeSantis voted to rescind an agreement that gave the company authority over design and construction decisions at its sprawling properties near Orlando.

“Disney regrets it has come to this,” the case said. “But after exhausting all efforts to find a solution, the company has no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests and local development partners from a campaign. relentless effort to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing policy. view unpopular with some state officials.

Legal deposit is the latest salvo in a quarrel of more than a year between Disney and DeSantis who engulfed the Governor in criticism as he prepares to launch an expected presidential candidacy In the coming months.

DeSantis, who has cast himself as a Republican firebrand capable of deftly enacting his conservative agenda without drama, plunged headlong into the fray with the beloved business and major driver of tourism, as chiefs Business and White House rivals denounce his position as a rejection of the principles of small government conservatism.

“We are not aware of any legal rights a company has to run its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other state companies,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said. “This lawsuit is another unfortunate example of their hope to undermine the will of Florida voters and operate outside the bounds of the law.”

The fight started last year after Disney, in the face of great pressurepublicly opposed a state law that bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in the early years, a policy critics call “Don’t Say Gay.”

As punishment, DeSantis took over the self-governing district of Disney World and appointed a new board of supervisors that would oversee municipal services at the sprawling theme parks. But before the new board arrived, the company pushed through an eleventh-hour deal that stripped the new supervisors of much of their authority.

The DeSantis board of directors said Wednesday that Disney’s decision to retain control of their property was effectively illegal and carried out without proper public notice.

“Disney chose the fight with this board. We weren’t looking for a fight,” said Martin Garcia, president of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, before the vote, adding “ultimately, what our attorneys have told us, is factually and legally what they’ve created is absolute law. mess. It won’t work.”

DeSantis also promised additional retribution, with proposals to increase state oversight of the station’s rides and monorail, as well as a suggestion to build a jail nearby.

Disney said all agreements made with the previous board were legal and approved in a public forum. Disney CEO Bob Iger also said any action against the company that threatens jobs or the expansion of its Florida resort is not just “anti-business” but “anti-Florida.”

Disney lawsuit asks federal judge to overturn district governor’s takeover of theme park, as well as actions of DeSantis board of supervisors, on grounds they were violations of free speech rights of the company.

“A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights,” the lawsuit said.

Leave a Comment