Ron DeSantis Punches Back at Disney Lawsuit: You Have ‘No Legal Right to Corporate Welfare’

UNITED STATES - APRIL 14: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a convocation at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday, April 14, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc; Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has punched back at Disney’s lawsuit, with his team saying Disney is trying to “undermine the will” of Florida voters and has “no legal right to corporate welfare.”

The Walt Disney Co. filed a lawsuit against DeSantis in federal court Wednesday, claiming the Republican governor is waging a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” in the ongoing fight over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law, which has been smeared by the mainstream news media as “Don’t Say Gay.”

After the California-based Disney publicly threatened to fight to repeal the Florida law, DeSantis stripped the company of its self-governing privileges in the Orlando area — a valuable corporate perk Disney has enjoyed for five decades.

A DeSantis spokesman issued a statement shortly after news of the lawsuit broke on Wednesday.

“We are unaware of any legal right that a company has to operate its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in the state,” DeSantis’ statement said. “This lawsuit is yet another unfortunate example of their hope to undermine the will of the Florida voters and operate outside the bounds of the law.”

Another DeSantis spokesman tweeted: “There’s no legal right to corporate welfare.”

Disney is alleging that DeSantis has “weaponized” government power against Disney and has “orchestrated at every step” of the effort to punish Disney in ways that threaten the company’s business.

Disney’s suit comes as the two sides continue to battle over control of the special district in Orlando known as Reedy Creek.

Florida revoked Disney’s self-governing privileges in the district last year after the company started a political war with DeSantis over  Parental Rights in Education Law, which prohibits public schools from indoctrinating students in radical gender ideology, including transgenderism, as well as other forms of sexual ideology.

Since then, DeSantis and Disney have been fighting over control of Reedy Creek, with Disney using backdoor legal means as a way to evade a state takeover of the district.

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