News (USA)

Disney is giving money to politicians who support Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law

Entrance of Disney World near Orlando Photo: Shutterstock

With the feud between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in its rearview mirror, the House of Mouse is back to making political donations in Florida — even to anti-gay politicians who supported the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law, which forbids classroom instruction on LGBTQ+ issues, cause DeSantis to revoke some of Disney’s special self-administrative privileges after the company publicly criticized it.

Campaign finance records for April and May this year, released Tuesday, show Walt Disney Parks and Resorts providing more than $87,000 in in-kind contributions to political committees, most of which are affiliated with specific lawmakers.

Several of those contributions are to lawmakers who voted for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

Known officially as the Parental Rights in Education Act, the law prompted then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek to go public opposing DeSantis in 2022, inspiring a feud — fueled by the governor’s presidential run — that eventually stripped Disney of control of the special administrative district that runs government services at Walt Disney World.

Chapek lost his job and was replaced by longtime former CEO Robert Iger. In the meanwhile, the company temporarily halted all political contributions in Florida.

The Disney/DeSantis feud ended with the implosion of the governor’s presidential run and the approval of a $17 billion development deal through his handpicked Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in March.

Now Disney’s wallet is open again, and the company is handing out in-kind political donations, in the form of services, products, event space, or other benefits.

Both Democrats and Republicans are the beneficiaries, including several GOP lawmakers who voted for “Don’t Say Gay.”

Disney donated $16,423 to Florida Farmers and Ranchers United, affiliated with Republican state Rep. Josie Tomkow, who voted for the discriminatory legislation.

$10,000 went to Citizens for Solutions, chaired by Republican state Sen. Jason Brodeur, and just under $10,000 to Friends of Joe Gruters, a Republican state senator and former state GOP chair. Both voted for “Don’t Say Gay.”

Disney spent about $55 million in donations to Democrats, Republicans, and political committees in Florida over the previous 28 years, records show. That number includes $2 million in just the first two months of 2022 leading up to DeSantis’ signature on the Parental Rights in Education Act.

LGBTQ Nation contacted Disney for comment. This story will be updated whenever the company responds.

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