On Wednesday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accusing him of punishing the company for exercising its constitutional rights.
The lawsuit alleges DeSantis’ move against the company, including the decision to remove special governing status, is “retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional.”
“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 and attracting tens of millions of visitors to the state each year,” reads Disney’s lawsuit. “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.”
“At the Governor’s bidding, the State’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which has laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs.”
BREAKING: Disney is suing Ron DeSantis. Details to come. pic.twitter.com/npjityqhU1
— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) April 26, 2023
The lawsuit further notes DeSantis’ interest in implementing “taxes on the hotels,” “tolls on the roads,” “developing some of the property that the district owns” “with “more amusement parks,” including the construction of a “state prison” next to Disney’s Florida location.
“Having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left 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 against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials,” the lawsuit continued. “Disney expressed its opinion on state legislation and was then punished by the State for doing so.”
“This lawsuit is yet another unfortunate example of their hope to undermine the will of the Florida voters and operate outside the bounds of the law,” deputy press secretary Jeremy T. Redfern told the Daily Caller.
On Friday, DeSantis commented on the state’s involvement in Disney’s business during the Heritage Foundation’s Leadership Summit.
“It’s not conservative to simply defer to every corporation in America,” DeSantis said. “That’s being a corporatist.”
“A corporatist would say, ‘You have to give Disney everything it wants,'” he continued, noting Disney was benefiting from “unprecedented” privileges and subsidies. “They controlled their own government in Central Florida. They were exempt from laws that virtually everybody else had to follow. They had great tax breaks. They were even able to rack up debt. No single entity or individual in the state of Florida enjoyed those privileges.”
He added: “That’s not good government. That’s not free enterprise. But it’s certainly even worse when a company takes all those privileges that have been bestowed over many decades and uses that to wage war on state policy regarding families and children.”