Image via Shutterstock Disney’s self-government didn’t appear to bother Florida's governor until the company’s decision to reject his anti-LGBTQ stance.
Image via Shutterstock

Money, theater, political revenge. The DeSantis vs. Disney ever-evolving saga continues, with surprising new turns…

You know the story so far: After Walt Disney World refused to support Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the state’s Republican governor hit back by signing a bill to end the 55 years of self-government that gave the giant corporation its own building codes and taxing authority, to cite two examples.

It’s worth noting that Disney’s self-government didn’t appear to bother the governor until the company’s decision to reject his anti-LGBTQ stance.

However, the GOP governor seems to be unaware that a Data for Progress survey, conducted from April 30 to May 3, 2022, showed that 53% of Republicans think politicians should not take action against companies. Nor does it appear that DeSantis is concerned about the domino effect that could be triggered by his actions.

Floridians Will Pay the Price

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings warned that in this political chess game, DeSantis’ move “would be catastrophic for our budget.”

“If we had to take over the first response and public safety components for Reedy Creek with no new revenue… it would put an undue burden on the rest of the taxpayers in Orange County,” said Demings.

RELATED: Florida Taxpayers Sue DeSantis for Eliminating Disney’s Special District. This Lawyer Wants You to Join the Lawsuit.

There has also been talk that Disney, which employs over 77,000 Floridians, could leave the state over the fracas, hurting not only workers, but also the state’s economy, which is largely dependent on tourism.

Holding on to Disney Money

And yet… Even in the midst of a contentious war, Florida Republicans are holding on to Disney dollars. Yes, you read that right: many GOP politicians are hanging on to campaign dollars the company gave them before DeSantis’ move.

This election cycle alone, the tourism and entertainment giant has made more than $2.3 million in political contributions, including $255,000 in monetary donations to the Republican Party of Florida, as well as nearly $142,000 worth of in-kind donations that covered lodging, food and entertainment costs of visiting Disney parks. Disney gave $50,000 to DeSantis’ political committee and donated more than $380,000 in checks and in-kind donations in the past 15 months to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign, including a check for $65,000 at the start of this year’s legislative session in January, reported Politico.

RELATED: Florida House’s Vote to Dissolve Disney’s Special District Could Raise Taxes for Residents

Rep. Joe Harding, who sponsored the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was one of a handful of GOP politicians who returned the Disney dollars.

But neither the Republican Party of Florida nor DeSantis’ political committee has discussed whether they will return the money donated by their now political archenemy.

Puro Teatro

State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) calls the Republicans’ refusal to return Disney’s money a performance and “petty, punitive and performative politics — Florida Republicans are such good actors they should be hired by Disney.”

She then went on to ask in a text message, “If Disney is so ‘woke’ and profits off communist China (as DeSantis has stated before) then why are Republicans not returning the millions they’ve received in ‘woke’ money?”

The story, of course, doesn’t end here. Seguiremos en sintonía…