On March 11, Disney announced that it would be pausing all political contributions in the state of Florida. The move came after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law. The legislation bans educators from talking about topics like gender identity and sexual orientation in Kindergarten through 3rd-grade classrooms. The bill has been called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics who believe that it will target members of the LGBTQ+ community. Not long before the bill passed, Disney had spoken out against the bill, which angered Governor DeSantis, who said that companies do not govern the state.
Disney and Florida have been locked in a heated battle ever since. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that Disney would work closely with groups and politicians in the state to get the bill repealed. In turn, DeSantis and some of his fellow Republicans announced that they might consider repealing the Reedy Creek Act — which allows Disney to essentially operate as its own government.
While Disney and Florida Republicans may currently be at odds, conservative groups in Florida were able to reap some benefits from Disney before the contributions stopped. According to a new report from The Orlando Sentinel, before pausing donations, Disney has already given about $125,000 to the Florida GOP. Per The Sentinel:
Before this year, Disney had given about $55 million to Republicans, Democrats and political committees in the state over the past 28 years, including about $5 million in 2020 and more than $2 million in 2021, state records show.
The company had also given more than $100,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC since 2019.
Before the pause this year, in addition to the Florida GOP contribution Disney also gave $25,000 to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign.
Its political committee contributions, however, tilted right. The company gave $25,000 to the political group Conservatives for a Better Florida, $25,000 to the conservative group Advancing Florida Agriculture and $10,000 to Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ affiliated group Treasure Florida.
Since deciding to speak out against the controversial bill, Chapek has repeatedly apologized to Cast Members for his handling of the bill. While originally staying quiet because he found the bill “irrelevant” to the company, he quickly realized just how much it mattered to thousands of Cast Members. Even though he apologized and vowed to fight for equal rights, it was not soon enough to prevent a number of walkouts and protests.
Disney has not released a statement about its donations at this time. They have also not said if they will once again start donating to Florida politicians, but only those who are promising to work with advocacy groups to fight the Parental Rights in Education bill. Disney has said, however, that it will fight in other states as well.