(NewsNation) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law ending Walt Disney Co.’ self-governing status Monday, explaining his feud with Disney in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
The law removes Disney’s right to self-govern the 43 square miles that make up Disney World in Orlando, Florida, a status they have held since 1967.
DeSantis called Disney’s special arrangement “an indefensible example of corporate welfare,” saying the corporation had undue influence over politics and culture in Florida.
“The modern left has jettisoned principle in favor of power. As long as large corporations help advance the left’s woke agenda, the left is willing to do their bidding,” DeSantis wrote.
The law signed this week creates a new state-controlled board consisting of five members appointed by DeSantis.
Disney’s previous status “provided the company with favorable tax treatment, including the ability to assess its own property valuations and to enjoy the benefits of regional infrastructure improvements without paying taxes toward the projects,” DeSantis wrote.
“It even allowed Disney to build a nuclear power plant and to use eminent domain to seize private property outside the district’s boundaries,” if the company chose to do so.
Now, Disney will be under DeSantis’ control.
Tension between DeSantis and Disney began last year when the entertainment giant publicly spoke out against DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act.
The act “prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” according to the text.
Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek said he faced criticism for not speaking out against the proposed bill at Disney’s annual meeting with shareholders.
Soon after it was passed, Disney employees and LGBTQ+ advocates held protests, calling on Disney’s CEO to take a stronger stand against the legislation which its critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Chapek explained that Disney leaders were opposed to the bill “from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
DeSantis wrote in his op-ed that “Disney executives were seen on videos boasting about the company’s plans to inject sexuality into its programming for children,” accusing Chapek of bending to public pressure.
In his new memoir “The Courage to be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for American Revival,” DeSantis recalled a conversation he had with Chapek.
“Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill,” wrote DeSantis.
DeSantis is expected to be a top contender in the 2024 presidential election, going up against former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
In the op-ed, DeSantis wrote, “We are making Florida the state where the economy flourishes because we are the state where woke goes to die.”