Florida’s governor has described Disney’s legal case against him as politically motivated – and said it is time for the company to stop enjoying favourable treatment in his state.
Disney sued Ron DeSantis on Wednesday over the Republican’s appointment of a board of supervisors in its self-governed theme park district, alleging the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed a law critics call Don’t Say Gay.
The legal filing is the latest salvo in a feud between Disney and Mr DeSantis that has engulfed the governor in criticism as he prepares to launch an expected 2024 presidential bid.
“They’re upset because they’re having to live by the same rules as everybody else,” Mr DeSantis said during a visit to Israel.
“The days of putting one company on a pedestal with no accountability are over in the state of Florida.”
Mr DeSantis was speaking on the third leg of an international trip meant to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of a potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination as a key rival to former US president Donald Trump.
Mr DeSantis has dived headlong into the fray with Disney, a major driver of tourism and a font for employment in Florida, as business leaders and White House rivals have bashed his stance as a rejection of the small-government tenets of conservatism.
The fight began last year after Disney, in the face of significant pressure, publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early years.
But before the new board came in, the company pushed though an 11th-hour agreement that stripped the new supervisors of much of their authority.
The Disney legal case asks a federal judge to void the governor’s takeover of the theme park district, as well as the DeSantis oversight board’s actions, on the grounds they were violations of the company’s free speech rights.
After his trip to Israel, Mr DeSantis heads to Britain.