Randy Maggard becomes second Florida lawmaker to return Disney contributions
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/27/21Rep. Randy Maggard, R-Dade City, during the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee meeting, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Since January 2021, Disney has donated a total of $5,000 to Maggard's campaign in $1,000 increments.

Dade City Republican Rep. Randy Maggard announced Wednesday that he will return $5,000 worth of contributions made by Disney to his 2022 re-election campaign, joining Williston Rep. Joe Harding.

The pair decided to return the donations in response to the entertainment giant’s public stance on legislation (HB 1557) sponsored by Harding that has garnered national attention and has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics.

Since January 2021, Disney has donated a total of $5,000 to Maggard’s campaign in $1,000 increments — the max an entity or individual can donate. Those contributions were made by Disney Gift Card Services, Disney Photo Imaging, The Celebration Company, Magical Cruise Company and Disney Destinations LLC.

Maggard’s refund comes one day after Harding announced he too, would be returning Disney campaign donations.

The news also follows Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of the Parental Rights in Education bill Monday, which prompted harsh criticism from Disney. The corporation immediately came out with a statement after the bill signing, saying the legislation “should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law.”

The entertainment monolith and Republican leadership have been at odds during the last few weeks because of the bill, with Maggard becoming Florida’s second Republican lawmaker to return contributions made from the pockets of Mickey Mouse.

The controversial legislation governs classroom instruction on LGBTQ matters. Specifically, the bill limits classroom instruction on “sexual orientation and gender identity,” a move Republican leadership says would bolster parental rights. The bill follows up on last year’s “Parental Bill of Rights,” which said public schools cannot infringe on the “fundamental rights” of parents to direct the upbringing of their child.

“The Parental Rights in Education Act says that at the youngest ages, K-3rd grade, only age appropriate material can be taught to students in the classroom,” Maggard said in a statement. “This legislation protects Florida’s youngest schoolchildren and protects the parent-child relationship. I am disappointed to see Disney go along with the disinformation narrative of political activists when they know it to be false. I stand with Florida families and with the parents and families in my district.”

The measure would ban classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through third grade, or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” The legislation does not restrict the topics from being barred across all ages if the school district deems the instruction age-inappropriate.

Parents who think a classroom discussion was not age-appropriate or who are unsupportive of a district’s policies would be able to sue for damages and attorneys fees.

Disney initially came under fire from Democrats for not taking a stronger stance against the controversial bill as it progressed through Tallahassee. During that time, the bill picked up vocal opposition, including hours of impassioned debate and protest from students. It even garnered national flak, from the White House to Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony. The Governor slammed bill opponents at the signing Monday, saying those who disagree with the legislation “support sexualizing kids in kindergarten.”

Notably, Disney is one of the state’s largest employers and carries political weight in the Legislature, making significant donations to Republican leadership and some Democrats.

In addition to instructional guidelines, the legislation also would limit confidentiality between students and school personnel, requiring that a school district “may not adopt procedures or student support forms that prohibit school district personnel from notifying a parent about his or her student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in related services or monitoring, or that encourage or have the effect of encouraging a student to withhold from a parent such information.”

School personnel only are permitted to withhold such information from a parent “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect,” the bill reads.

There is already talk of a lawsuit to overturn the legislation. Equality Florida, one of the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, announced the group is looking to pursue legal action against the legislation after its passage in the Senate.

The legislation is set to take effect July 1, before the start of the new school year.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Andrew Nappi

    March 30, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    I wonder if red flagger gun grabber anti fire arms freedom senator Wilton Simpson will give back the 26K Disney gave him.

  • what a change

    March 31, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    I seem to remember captain America looking better under that mask

Comments are closed.


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