BREAKING: Disney Sues Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

The Disney vs. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drama just got more interesting.

Obtained via ClickOrlando Livestream

Disney and DeSantis have been battling for quite some time now, following Disney’s statements against the Parental Rights in Education law (what critics call “Don’t Say Gay”). Following that, DeSantis and the Florida legislature have made some significant changes to Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (now called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District) including the imposition of a new board, declarations by the board that some recent Disney x Reedy Creek agreements are invalid, threats of a prison near Disney World, and more. And now Disney is “officially” fighting back.

According to CNBC, Disney has officially sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (as well as members of the District’s new board) alleging that the Governor has waged a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against Disney.

Obtained via ClickOrlando Livestream

The lawsuit has been filed in federal court and argues that DeSantis has orchestrated a campaign to punish Disney for its political views and that this all now threatens Disney’s business.

Though Disney’s prior responses to the battle have typically been more quiet or subtle, this significantly escalates the feud.

Reedy Creek

According to Scott Gustin (via Twitter), the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. It alleges, “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.”

Gustin has shared a full copy of the complaint. Within the complaint, Disney has alleged:

  • For more than half a century, Disney has made an immeasurable impact on Florida and its economy, establishing Central Florida as a top global tourist destination
  • Disney is one of Central Florida’s largest taxpayers
  • Disney is also one of the largest employers in the State

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

Magic Kingdom

Disney argues that DeSantis “paid no mind to the governing structure that facilitated Reedy Creek’s successful development until one year ago, when the Governor decided to target Disney.” In Disney’s view, “There is no room for disagreement about what happened here: Disney expressed its opinion on state legislation and was then punished by the State for doing so.”

DeSantis said that Disney’s statement on the Don’t Say Gay law had “crossed a line.” Following that, Disney argues, he has employed “the machinery of the State in a coordinated campaign to damage Disney’s ability to do business in Florida.”

Pride Mickey Ears

Disney argues that the leaders of the state haven’t been subtle in their reasons for the attack. Instead, Disney claims “They have proudly declared that Disney deserves this fate because of what Disney said.” Disney even pointed out how the Florida representative who introduced the Reedy Creek dissolution bill once shared, “You got me on one thing, this bill does target one company. It targets The Walt Disney Company.”

According to Disney, “This is as clear a case of retaliation as this Court is ever likely to see.”

Reedy Creek

According to the complaint, Disney “regrets that it has come this. But, Disney claims that it has “exhausted efforts to seek a resolution,” leaving them with “no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power.”

Disney claims that they “never wanted a fight with the Florida government” and had tried to de-escalate things for almost a year “trying several times to spark a productive dialogue with the DeSantis Administration. To no avail.”

Reedy Creek Trash Cans

Due to the uncertainty about “the lengths to which the State would go to keep punishing Disney for its views,” Disney argues that they gave notice about some contracts they would be entering into regarding future development within the District “contracts that implemented a comprehensive plan for the District that the DeSantis Administration itself had found compliant with Florida law months earlier.”

According to Disney, the “latest strike” in DeSantis’ campaign has been the action taken by the board of supervisors of the District on April 26th, 2023 which invalidated some of Disney’s “publically noticed and duly agreed development contracts” that it had signed with the previous board.

©Reedy Creek Meeting Livestream

Disney argues that its Development Agreement with the prior board doesn’t “undermine” the authority of the new board to “govern and exercise authority.” And they claim that noting in these contracts was a surprise because they were “discussed and approved after open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida law.”

According to Disney, the action by the board to invalidate these agreements now is “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional.”

You can read more about that board action here

Disney warns that the Governor and the board he has appointed will not stop. Disney alleges that DeSantis has threatened to “to look at things like taxes on the hotels,” “tolls on the roads,” “developing some of the property that the district owns” with “more amusement parks,” and even putting a “state prison” next to Walt Disney World. 

via Twitter

As a result of this situation, Disney claims that it has been “forced to defend itself against a State weaponizing its power to inflict political punishment.” Disney claims that DeSantis and his appointed board have violated Disney’s federal constitution rights “under the Contracts Clause, the Takings Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the First Amendment.”

Disney’s ultimate view seems to be summed up in one sentence “In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.”

Magic Kingdom

This is a developing story, so check back with us for the latest news.

In the meantime, click here to see what Disney CEO Bob Iger has had to say about the drama

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The post BREAKING: Disney Sues Florida Governor Ron DeSantis first appeared on the disney food blog.


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