(NewsNation) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday shrugged off Disney’s lawsuit against him as politically motivated during a news conference in Jerusalem.
In a scathing complaint Wednesday, Disney accused the governor of orchestrating a targeted campaign against the multibillion-dollar company.
Disney’s lawyers say the company is “sorry it has come to this.” The company also accuses DeSantis of “a relentless campaign to harness government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political point of view.”
Disney is asking the court to rule that the legislative declaration that created an oversight board for the park is illegal and unenforceable, along with other legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers to attack Disney. The company is also asking the court to uphold the contracts that Disney approved before the board sat down.
Disney’s lawsuit exposes the park’s history in Florida, including the number of visitors the theme park attracts each year, and claims it is one of the state’s largest employers and taxpayers.
Disney World is covered by a special taxing district that encompasses the park and gives the Walt Disney Corporation the ability to effectively operate the park as its own county, including issuing development approvals and handling maintenance and other tasks. of a municipal nature, such as safety inspections. .
The ongoing dispute between the theme park and Florida’s governor began last year when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized the state’s Parents’ Rights in Education Act.
That legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, prohibits teaching about sexual orientation or gender in Florida classrooms. Since then, DeSantis has rejected what he has called the “corporate kingdom” of Disney. The governor has also moved to take over the decades-old Disney Autonomous District.
“They have been treated very differently than Universal and Sea World and all these other places, so they are upset that they have to live by the same rules as everyone else,” DeSantis said Thursday. “It’s too much to complain about that. I don’t think the lawsuit has merit, I think it’s political.”
Despite several recent international trips, DeSantis maintains that he is not a 2024 presidential candidate.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans in Florida approved a revised election law that would allow DeSantis to run for president without having to resign from his current position, bypassing the state’s resignation-to-run rule.
DeSantis has faced a barrage of criticism from his main possible adversary, former President Donald Trump.
Now, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also running for president in 2024, has criticized DeSantis over his ongoing feud with Disney. She invited Disney to move from Florida to South Carolina.
NewsNation affiliate The Hill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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