To say that Disney and the Florida Republican Party are currently at odds would be an understatement. The two have been locked in a massive battle since late March, when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill. Critics dubbed the bill the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and Disney has said that it will work to have the bill repealed. After that statement, Republicans in the state went after the House of Mouse and signed another bill ending the Reedy Creek Improvement Act.
Disney speaking out against the Parental Rights in Education bill has caused a number of names to be hurled their way. Most common are “woke” and “groomers”. Governor DeSantis has even called them “dishonest”. That would make you think that Republicans in the Sunshine State would want nothing to do with Disney, and that is true — to a point. Florida Republicans have basically told Disney to sit down and be quiet, but are more than happy to keep the money Disney has sent their way.
According to a recent report from Politico, Disney donated more than $2 million to Florida Republicans before things got messy and names were hurled. And many of those politicians were happy to take the money — but they do not want to be reminded that they took it. And they don’t want to give it back. Per the Politico report:
Disney and its affiliates have donated more than $2.3 million in Florida this election cycle, which includes money to elected officials, their political committees and committees run by one of the state’s main business groups. That total includes providing hotel rooms and theme park tickets as well as campaign checks. Money has flowed to individual legislators as well as political committees controlled by Republican and Democratic leaders.
But DeSantis and many state Republicans have refused to return campaign contributions to the California-based entertainment giant, which they have blasted over Disney’s opposition to a law that bans instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade. Late last month, DeSantis and the Legislature stripped the company of special privileges that allowed it to operate as its own municipal government in central Florida.
Disney has given the Republican Party of Florida $255,000 in checks since January 2021 as well as nearly $142,000 worth of in-kind donations that covered lodging, food and entertainment costs of visiting Disney parks. The party, however, declined to answer questions about whether it would return any donations.
Disney has also been generous to Ron DeSantis’ campaign. The Walt Disney Company donated $50,000 to DeSantis in March 2021 and the same amount two years earlier. DeSantis has said that the company has been given a “free ride” for 50 years and repeatedly attacks them in the press. However, he has not returned any money that he has received.
While most Republicans have kept the money from a company they consider “woke”, some have indeed sent donations back. State Rep. Joe Harding received more than $8,000 from Disney, and he sent it back. Harding was a co-sponsor of the Parental Rights in Education bill. Many of Harding’s fellow Republicans did not comment when asked about the money they received from Disney, or if they would return it.
Some Florida Democrats are calling their Republican colleagues out on keeping Disney’s money if they think the company is obsessed with being “woke” and is a terrible company that is trying to impose its will. State Rep. Anna Eskamani responded to Politico in a text, saying:
“If Disney is so ‘woke’ and profits off communist China (as DeSantis has stated before) then why are Republicans not returning the millions they’ve received in ‘woke money? This is petty, punitive and performative politics — Florida Republicans are such good actors they should be hired by Disney.”
Do you think Florida Republicans should return donations made by Disney?