Ron DeSantis isn’t holding back about The Walt Disney Co. narrowing the scope of its lawsuit against his administration.
The Florida Governor and 2024 presidential candidate said the company would lose even its revised federal claim, calling the plaintiff’s position “bogus.”
“They’re going to lose, and they’re obviously going to lose that claim. It’s a bogus claim. These were acts of the Florida Legislature. They had every right to make sure that Disney is living under the same laws as every other company paying taxes following the law,” DeSantis said on the Fox News Channel.
As they said they would days ago, Disney narrowed its federal complaint to a First Amendment issue, contending the governor retaliated against them politically, noting that other claims are being handled in a parallel piece of state-level litigation.
Meanwhile, the latest remarks from the governor show that despite his assertions that the state is on strong footing, he’s at least rhetorically preoccupied with the long-running fight between the state and one of its signature companies.
“Look, my wife and I, we got married at Walt Disney World. And so it’s not like we’re opposed. I mean, we’ve appreciated working with them over the years, but I would just say, go back to what you did,” DeSantis said last month, seemingly referring to the convivial working relationship Florida’s government had with the company before it opposed 2022’s Parental Rights in Education law.
“But where we are today, you know, we basically moved on. They’re suing the state of Florida; they’re going to lose that lawsuit. So what I would say is drop the lawsuit,” the governor said.
During a July interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, the Florida Governor contended rank-and-file Disney workers are with him and not “‘woke’ executives” – comments he bases on the 2022 election.
“The sad part about it, guys, is when we were having this fight with Disney in 2022, most of the employees in their Orlando area theme parks agreed with us,” DeSantis said, using election results to make his point.
“I won Osceola County for the first time a Republican has done in a generation by seven (percentage points), which is where the majority of Disney employees live,” he added, though it’s not accurate to say most voters in the county work for Disney.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ Never Back Down super PAC has targeted 2024 presidential race opponents Nikki Haley and Donald Trump with ads saying they caved into the company’s whims.
Earlier this year, DeSantis said the state had every right to do what it wanted on land in the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, now known as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. DeSantis has even joked about the state locking criminals up near Disney World.
“People are like, well, ‘What should we do with this land? Maybe create a state park? Maybe try to do more amusement parks,’” DeSantis said before adding the prison quip. “Somebody even said, ‘Maybe you need another state prison?’ Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless, and so that is now going to be analyzed to see what would make the most sense.”
A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com or on X: @AGGancarski.