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Disney Quietly Surrenders To DeSantis, GOP

Disney plans to keep quiet about politics after publicly sparring with Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over legislation related to LGBT content in education, according to The Wall Street Journal.

DeSantis signed a law eliminating Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District Friday, ending special administrative and tax privileges the company had enjoyed since 1967 after the company came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Disney’s political allies in the Florida legislature said the company’s best bet at finding a resolution with DeSantis now is to stay out of politics, according to the WSJ.

“This was shock and awe from the governor,” Republican Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes, who voted against the Disney bill told the WSJ. “It just shows how big a challenge Disney faced in saying anything at all in the legislative process.”

Republican lawmakers reportedly told Adam Babington, Disney’s top government affairs official in Florida, that the company may be able to salvage their special district if they stepped out of the public fight, according to the WSJ.

“Cool it off. Let’s not make a big deal about this,” said Babington, according to the WSJ.

“Waging culture wars against common-sense legislation – on parental rights and child safeguarding – is bad for business, particularly for a company that has built a successful brand over the decades by marketing wholesome entertainment to families,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“No corporation could possibly have swayed Governor DeSantis’ dedication to protecting kids and parents’ rights,” Pushaw said. “Disney’s vow to ‘repeal’ HB 1557 and overrule the majority of Floridians, as well as our legitimately elected government, has backfired as expected.”

Disney publicly opposed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade. The company initially ignored the legislation, which critics and LGBT activists call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but CEO Bob Chapek voiced opposition to the bill following a media pressure campaign highlighting Disney’s silence.

A spokesperson for DeSantis denied that the decision to dissolve Reedy Creek was meant as retaliation against Disney, explaining that the privileges conferred to Disney could be seen as a form of favoritism, and eliminating those privileges created a more level playing field.

“The bill will be a sword of Damocles over Disney’s head for at least the next year,” Brandes said, according to the WSJ. He said DeSantis’s swift actions following his feud “sends a powerful message to other businesses that disagree with him: If they’re willing to take on Disney, they’re willing to take on anyone.”

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