DeSantis Rift With Disney Widens, Casting Doubt on Chapek Talks
(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis escalated his criticism of Walt Disney Co. for opposing a bill he signed Monday, with his spokeswoman saying he’s unlikely to meet one-on-one with Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek given the company’s recent comments.
DeSantis signed the bill, which limits instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.
“This state is governed by the interests of the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a press conference Tuesday. “It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives. They do not run this state. They do not control this state.”
Dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, the measure has received widespread attention across the U.S, with supporters saying it protects children while opponents argue it could harm them. Disney, one of Florida’s biggest employers because of its theme parks there, said in a statement Monday that the bill “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.”
Chapek faced an internal uproar earlier this month because of his initial decision to refrain from taking a public stand before telling shareholders on March 9 that he opposed the legislation. Chapek told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that he had spoken with DeSantis and that he and some of the company’s employees planned to meet with the governor to discuss the legislation.
That meeting hasn’t happened, Christina Pushaw, press secretary for DeSantis, said in a series of text messages. “Never say never,” she said, “But it’s not looking likely based on Disney statement yesterday.”
Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, said it would work to have the bill repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts. Company executives are in Florida this week hosting an event for Wall Street analysts.
“If this was such an affront, why weren’t they speaking up at the outset?” DeSantis said on Tuesday. “For them to say they’re going to actively work to repeal substantive protections for parents, as a company that is supposedly marketing its services to parents with young children. I think they crossed the line.”
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