U.S. Sen. Rick Scott offered tepid criticism of the Walt Disney Company Wednesday during a national interview, while also pointing out he didn’t have issues with the company or its self-governing status while he was Governor of Florida.
Scott told Bloomberg TV Disney was a “responsible corporate citizen” during his eight years in Tallahassee and generally, he added, questions about the now-controversial Reedy Creek Improvement District, which grants Disney functional autonomy to govern itself, never came up.
“You know, when I was Governor, it never was an issue,” Scott said. “I don’t understand why they’re now getting involved in some of these political issues. My understanding is that the Legislature is going to look at it now. But my experience with Disney has been positive,” Scott said.
Disney has run afoul of Gov. Ron DeSantis and many legislative Republicans in the wake of its vocal opposition to a Parental Rights in Education bill (HB 1557) that critics have framed as “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. The measure bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and requires that instruction be age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for all grades.
Scott called it “frustrating” that companies like Disney have mobilized against the legislation, saying that “young children should not be taught about sex in school.”
“Companies have got to really think about how they get involved,” Scott urged, accusing Disney of a double standard since they do business in Communist China.
For his part, DeSantis’ critiques of Disney have been direct and ongoing since the company began speaking out on HB 1557.
“There are certain entities that have exerted a lot of influence through corporate means to generate special privileges in the law,” DeSantis said last week in Ponte Vedra. “I don’t think we should have special privileges in the law at all.”
The Governor also suggested previous leaders of the state gave Disney too much leeway.
“I think that’s one of the reasons they’ve got so far over their skis on this parental rights stuff, because I think they’re used to having their way and they’re not used to having people that will stand in their way,” DeSantis said.
Legislators, such as Southwest Florida Republican state Rep. Spencer Roach, say moves are afoot to strip the special status from Disney.
“Yesterday was the second meeting in a week with fellow legislators to discuss a repeal of the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows Disney to act as its own government,” Roach tweeted last week. “If Disney wants to embrace ‘woke’ ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County.”
Despite the heavy Republican lean of the Legislature and the seeming inevitability of more of the same after the November elections, Disney contends there is a road to canceling the parental rights law.
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the Legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” read a corporate statement first released to Variety. “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”
Renzo Downey and Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.
April 6, 2022 at 1:42 pm
Anyone with common sense sees Ron DeSantis as a vindictive child like Trump protege. At this point DeSantis has spent quite a bit of taxpayer money an his social agenda issues that are the lifeline to his disenfranchised Trumpster base. After all….. DeSantis needs Trumpsters…..he can’t survive without them.
April 6, 2022 at 3:06 pm
Still wishing we had that coke sniffing and male hooker lover as Governor I see. Boy did the state dodge a bullet on that one. Thank God DeSantis is Governor of Florida.
April 6, 2022 at 1:47 pm
That old guy looks like he’s he’s already dead
April 6, 2022 at 2:01 pm
This will probably fizzle out by the time next year’s session convenes This is not the stuff of a special session. That’s reserved for the reapportionment kerfuffle, which may end up in court anyway. The Disney brass was just trying to cover their asses with their employees. This has little to do with their day-to-day operations.
April 6, 2022 at 2:28 pm
Rick Scott is jealous of the popularity of Ron DeSantis. Scott never had the support of the people like DeSantis does. Scott better be careful of criticizing DeSantis, we will remember when he runs again for office, and we will not vote for him.
April 9, 2022 at 11:36 am
The problem is that Walt Disney (the guy) got burned by Anaheim and Orange County in Southern California with interference on multiple issues. Plus, tne local governments used the California proposition process to continuously add more restrictions and burdens. The Florida legislature and governor are just angry that they aren’t allowed to micromanage the Disney corporation — politicians consider companies to be either enemies or cows to be milked for campaign contributions. Thank (diety) the US Supreme Court ruled smartly on Southern Pacific vs. Santa Clara County.
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