Governor DeSantis Retaliates Against Disney with New State Board

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been at odds with The Walt Disney Company since early 2021, when Bob Chapek, the then-CEO of Disney, publicly opposed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.[0] This bill was designed to restrict discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms and Disney went as far as to pledge to stop giving money to Florida politicians who supported it, including DeSantis. Now, after a year of back and forth, DeSantis has signed a bill that will strip Disney of its self-governing status and place control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in the hands of a state board.[1]

DeSantis and his Republican allies in the legislature retaliated against Disney by passing a bill last month that places control of the district’s board in the hands of the governor.[2] The district will now be renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and the members of the board will be appointed by DeSantis, subject to approval by the Senate. Appointees include the Tampa lawyer Martin Garcia, who donated $50,000 to DeSantis’ 2022 reelection campaign, and Bridget Ziegler, the wife of Christian Ziegler, the new chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.[3]

One of the board members appointed by DeSantis, Ron Peri, has called homosexuality “evil” and spread a conspiracy theory that tap water could be making more people gay.[4] He also called homosexuality “shameful” and “unhealthy” and blamed it for the fall of the Roman Empire.[5] In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, DeSantis wrote, “When corporations try to use their economic power to advance a woke agenda, they become political, and not merely economic, actors. In such an environment, reflexively deferring to big business effectively surrenders the political battlefield to the militant left.”[6]

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District will have control over the district’s infrastructure and services, as well as taxing authority. The board is set to meet for the first time on Wednesday and Disney has reportedly no plans to fight back against the bill. With this move, DeSantis is giving Disney a stern warning that he will not tolerate their opposition to his political agenda.

0. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill to rename, reorganize Disney’s Reedy Creek district” FOX 35 Orlando, 27 Feb. 2023,

1. “Ron DeSantis reveals in memoir his one condition for getting married at Disney World” FOX 35 Orlando, 1 Mar. 2023,

2. “DeSantis’ Disney District Board Appointee Has A History Of Homophobic Comments” Forbes, 3 Mar. 2023,

3. “DeSantis signs bill stripping Disney of special district control” WESH 2 Orlando, 28 Feb. 2023,

4. “DeSantis appointee to new Disney oversight board suggested tap water could turn people gay” CNN, 3 Mar. 2023,

5. “DeSantis Disney Appointee Said Tap Water Could Be Making People Gay” The New Republic, 3 Mar. 2023,

6. “‘Indefensible example of corporate welfare’: DeSantis on Disney” NewsNation Now, 2 Mar. 2023,

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