Florida Governor DeSantis Reiterates “There is a New Sheriff In Town” When Asked About Disney Dispute

Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sat down on the Guy Benson Radio Show for a wide-ranging discussion as he presumably prepares to announce a bid for the Presidency of the United States. The discussion covered his legislative agenda in Florida, his Presidential bid, and also the dispute about Disney. When asked about the Disney dispute in particular, he doubled down once again that there is a “new sheriff in town.”

Host Guy Benson from Fox News Radio asked DeSantis about the Disney dispute, particularly the criticism he has received recently from other members of his own party in how he has dealt with Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District. DeSantis gave a fairly substantial response that didn’t offer a whole lot new from what he has been saying since the disagreement erupted last year when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Disney came out against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

DeSantis replied saying, “Well, I was never part of Reedy Creek. That happened before I was born. And so that’s just ridiculous to try to say that. It’s also ridiculous when some of these people say that, because Disney had donated to PACs that are supporting me, that I’m somehow hypocritical for opposing them on some of this stuff. No, that’s what a leader should do. You run campaigns. People can give or not. But they’re giving for me to be a leader and make my best judgment. I shouldn’t be indebted to somebody because they did that and not do what I think is right. And so those contributions don’t influence me. I think that’s what we should expect from our leaders, not the opposite.”

He continued by framing his foundation of the dispute saying, “Disney had an arrangement that no other citizen or business in the state of Florida has ever enjoyed. They basically had control of their own government, 44 square miles in Central Florida, no accountability, no transparency, exempt from laws that their competitors had to do, tax breaks, all these other things. And it was an unjustifiable arrangement that lived on through the decades because of their really potent political power in this state.”

Next DeSantis got into the actual dispute with Disney, from his perspective. “Now, what happened was, it wasn’t just the parents’ rights. Yes, they opposed us on it. I stood up to them. We signed the bill. Yes, they pledged that they were going to use their corporate resources and effectively the subsidies that the state of Florida had been providing them to try to get the law overturned and all this other stuff. And that’s not good, but it is what it is. But then we started to see their executives come out and talk about how they really wanted to start gearing their programming towards sexualization of the younger kids. And so we just had to make a decision. OK, this is not justifiable. The state of Florida has basically joined itself at the hip with this one company. And the question is, is that appropriate? And it really isn’t appropriate. And just, as a father, I didn’t want to see that continue,” DeSantis explained.

He wrapped up his answer saying what was coming next. “And so what we’re doing is, Disney is no longer going to have its own government. They’re going to live under the same laws as everybody else. They are going to pay their fair share of taxes and pay back the municipal debt, but they’re going to be treated like SeaWorld is and like Universal is.” DeSantis said. He continued on saying, “And so I think it was 100 percent appropriate, and we would do the same thing again. And a lot of the stuff, the litigation, they should just recognize what they’re doing is really not in the best interest of their shareholders. The state board that’s in charge of Disney now, they have a right to govern it. Disney tried to contract out of it in the middle of the night, and that’s — that’s not going to fly in Florida. So we will end up winning all that eventually. I think it’s kind of a waste, but we’re forced to be able to engage in it, so we will. But don’t tell me that it’s free market principles to have a — one company run its own government and live under different rules than everybody else. They had an arrangement that no other business has ever had. It’s outlived its usefulness. And there’s a new sheriff in town.”

The interview comes as DeSantis ramps up his Presidential campaign with an expected announcement before the end of the month on a national scale. In Florida, the State Legislature just wrapped up a session that included many different bills passed and signed, including one that gives Florida oversight of Walt Disney World Resort’s monorails and another that gives the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board the ability to nullify a development agreement made between Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney has sued DeSantis and other Florida leaders including the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board over its “retaliation.” There is also a countersuit from the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to Disney as well. Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger reiterated that it is “a matter of retaliation” and asked if Florida wanted more Disney investment, employment opportunities, and tax dollars.

While there is currently a war of words between Disney and DeSantis that is being played out in the court of public opinion, it is more than likely that the resolution of this disagreement will come from the courts. That is unless some sort of peace can be found between the two sides before the courts decide.

What do you think of how DeSantis framed this dispute? How do you think it will play out? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.