A group of former high-level government officials, consisting mostly of Republicans, has criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his autocratic approach, comparing it to the actions of governments in Russia and China. They argue that DeSantis’ takeover of Disney World’s governing district has had severe repercussions on the political, social, and economic fabric of the state.
Lawsuit Against DeSantis
In response to DeSantis’ appointment of board members to Disney World’s governing district, Disney filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of their free speech rights. This move by the Republican governor was prompted by Disney’s public opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibited discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in early-grade classrooms.
The group of former governors, U.S. House members, and presidential administration officials filed a “friend of the court” brief to emphasize the corrosive nature of DeSantis’ chosen path and its deviation from the democratic principles outlined in the Constitution. They believe it is essential for the court to play a critical role in curbing governance by retaliation.
By standing against DeSantis’ actions, these officials aim to protect the integrity of democracy and highlight the importance of safeguarding constitutional values.
DeSantis’ Actions Criticized for Economic Impact on Florida
A group of influential individuals, including two former GOP governors and three former Republican U.S. House members, have come forward to express their concerns about the economic implications of Governor Ron DeSantis’ actions in Florida. According to the group, businesses are being discouraged from operating in the state due to fear of potential retaliation from the governor if they voice their disapproval of his policies.
One notable example cited by the group is Disney’s decision to abandon plans for a $1 billion campus in Orlando. This move would have involved relocating 2,000 employees from Southern California. The group attributes Disney’s change of plans to a series of attacks by DeSantis over the course of a year.
The group comprises a range of individuals with experience in both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. It includes former GOP governors Christine Todd Whitman and Arne Carlson, as well as former Republican U.S. House members Tom Coleman, Claudine Schneider, and Christopher Shays. Additionally, the group consists of attorneys, commissioners, chiefs of staff, and other officials from previous administrations.
The officials argue that DeSantis’ actions were motivated by a desire to deter organizations like Disney from opposing his policies in the future. They draw parallels between these tactics and autocratic practices seen in countries like Russia and China.
The officials also express concern that DeSantis’ brazen and proud embrace of these anti-democratic actions has the potential to cause significant damage to both Florida’s political landscape and the overall fabric of the nation.
Disney Lawsuit against Florida Governor
An email seeking comment was sent Sunday morning to a spokesperson for the governor’s office in Tallahassee.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed a brief in support of Disney, arguing that a win by the Florida governor would embolden other governments across the U.S. to take actions against journalists and other media when they exercise their First Amendment rights.
Governor DeSantis’ Defense
Governor DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, is seeking a dismissal of Disney’s lawsuit in Tallahassee federal court. The governor argues that Disney is barred from filing a lawsuit because of legislative immunity protecting officials involved in the process of making laws. Furthermore, he states that the company lacks standing since it can’t show that it has been injured.
Disney World District Takeover
Earlier this year, DeSantis appointees took control of the Disney World district after a yearlong feud between the company and DeSantis. The conflict arose when Disney publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, which critics refer to as “Don’t Say Gay.” Disney faced significant internal and external pressure due to their opposition.
In response, Republican lawmakers passed legislation reconstituting the district and DeSantis appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services for the sprawling theme parks and hotels. In turn, Disney sued DeSantis and his five board appointees in federal court, claiming that the governor violated the company’s free speech rights by taking retaliatory action.
Disney’s Governance Battle Continues
This latest lawsuit adds another layer to the ongoing governance battle at Disney. It remains to be seen how this legal challenge will unfold and what ramifications it may have for the company moving forward. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.