Outside Walt Disney World, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that gives him new power over Disney, effectively punishing the entertainment giant for speaking out against the Republican’s political agenda.
The new law amounts to a state takeover of the Reedy Creek Special District, the government body that has given Disney unique powers in central Florida for more than half a century. In that sense, it allows the governor to replace the current district board – mostly people linked to Disney – with a five-member body chosen by himself.
“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” DeSantis said Monday at a Reedy Creek fire station in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “There’s a new sheriff in town and accountability will be the order of the day.”
DeSantis announced his appointments to the reconstructed board, including Martin Garcia, a Tampa attorney and prolific Republican donor whose private investment firm contributed $50,000 to DeSantis’ reelection, and Bridget Ziegler, a member of the County School Board. Sarasota, co-founder of the conservative organization Moms for Liberty and wife of Christian Ziegler, the new chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
The new board is scheduled to meet next week, DeSantis said, “so fasten your seatbelts.”
In a statement to CNN after the bill passed the state legislature earlier this month, Jeff Vahle, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, said the company was “ready to work within this new framework, and we will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year.”
The move against Disney comes nearly a year after the company ruled against a Florida bill, which DeSantis later signed into law, to restrict certain classroom teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity. In March of last year, as outrage against the legislation swept across the country, Disney issued a statement pledging to help get the law struck down or struck down by courts and saying the company was “dedicated to upholding the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”