Disney-DeSantis Feud Hits Next Level: Disney Sues

Entertainment giant alleges 'targeted campaign of government retaliation'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 12:16 PM CDT
Disney-DeSantis Feud Hits Next Level: Disney Sues
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation 50th Anniversary Celebration leadership summit, Friday, April 21, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The Disney-DeSantis feud just leveled up in a big way. The Walt Disney company filed a federal lawsuit against the Florida governor on Wednesday, alleging he waged a "targeted campaign of government retaliation" after the company opposed the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill last year, reports CNBC. How we got here:

  • Things have been particularly testy since February, when DeSantis declared himself the "new sheriff in town" and hand-picked members for a board that oversees what was formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special tax district that encompasses Disney's Orlando-area theme parks and gave Disney an unusual level of control over everything from road maintenance to development.
  • But prior to the new board being put in place, Disney pushed through two agreements that put huge constraints on the new board for decades. The New York Times reports one agreement gave Disney the ability to build 14,000 more hotel rooms and additional parks; the second limited what could be built on adjacent land.
  • As DeSantis indicated would happen in comments earlier this month, on Wednesday the new board voted to nullify the two agreements, saying Disney's attempt to keep control over its property was effectively unlawful and done without properly notifying the public, per the AP.
  • The suit—which names DeSantis, the five-member board, and other Florida officials—was filed just minutes after the vote, reports the Times. Disney claims DeSantis has carried out a "relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint." That campaign "now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights," per the suit.
(More Ron DeSantis stories.)

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