Gov. DeSantis’ Disney hack is the latest GOP threat to Big Business

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Six years ago, then governor of Indiana. Mike Pence strove to change his newly signed “religious freedom” law because Corporate America was against it.

Apple and Salesforce have opposed the bill, which allows businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Eli Lilly, a major employer in the state, described the situation as “bad for Indiana and for business.” The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the law was “completely unnecessary.”

MPs listened. The Republic-controlled government office quickly revised the bill to clarify that it could not be used to deny service based on sexual orientation. Pence signed it. And a feud between two longtime allies corporations and Republicans has come to an end.

But today, Pence’s surrender may feel like a postcard from a distant era, as an increasing number of state and federal Republican leaders seem eager to clash with America’s biggest corporations over bills on similarly important issues.

DeSantis proposes removing special tax status for Disney World

Last year, the GOP attacked firms like Delta Air Lines and Major League Baseball for opposing Georgia’s restrictive voting bill. Citigroup was threatened with action, which was seen as opposing Texas’ recent abortion ban. And Disney’s complaints about Florida’s new law limiting classroom discussion of gender identity have led Republicans to target the Magic Kingdom’s advantages. On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled Florida Senate voted 23-16 to repeal Disney’s special district status, and the Florida House may follow suit on Thursday. The consequences of this major change remain unclear.

Despite the attack, companies are not backing down due to rising expectations from customers and employees. Citigroup has not withdrawn its offer to help them obtain out-of-state abortion services following a new restrictive law in Texas, despite a state GOP representative’s threat to block the financial firm from underwriting municipal bonds.

The result is fresh cracks in the once solid relationship between companies and a business-friendly GOP.

This strange new situation is most acute in the conflict between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a presidentially ambitious Republican, and the Walt Disney Company, a theme park and entertainment giant with 80,000 workers in Sunshine State alone.

DeSantis in a surprise move this week Florida lawmakers asked Also in a special session on congressional rezoning to look at the elimination of self-governing districts created before 1968—including the one Disney World has enjoyed in the Orlando area for nearly six decades.

A spokesperson for the governor said this was not about Disney getting revenge and was not about publicly opposing a bill supported by DeSantis that bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school classrooms.

How Disney fell in the fight over LGBTQ speaking in Florida schools

“This is about the playing field for businesses in Florida,” governor spokesman Bryan Griffin said via email. “Yes, Disney is making use of one of these special zones, but the call is to examine the existence of all special zones.”

Aubrey Jewett wasn’t buying.

“It’s clear they’re doing this to punish Disney,” said Jewett, an associate professor of political science at the University of Central Florida, noting that the effects from deletion of private regions are something that legislators often want to study before they do.

“In normal political times,” he said, “this was unthinkable.”

It’s not uncommon for the governor of Florida to go after the most powerful company in the state.

The Parent Rights in Education bill, signed by DeSantis earlier this month, was instantly polarized.

DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, called it the “Anti-Grooming Bill.”

Disney was hit for not doing enough to stop legislation and protect LGBTQ workers. Disney executives apologized. They have pledged to stop contributions to Florida politicians as they reexamine priorities. The company then said the law “should never have passed and should never have become law” and promised to press for its repeal.

Even after signing the bill, DeSantis continued to shoot at Disney.

He said the company “crossed the line”.

“They don’t control this situation,” DeSantis added.

Other Republican lawmakers attended.

State Representative Randy Fine tweeted out He said Disney introduced the bill to eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District: “Disney is a guest in Florida. Today we remind them,” he said. It didn’t stop there.

Faced with new prospects, companies struggle with pressure to take a stand against voting bill in Georgia

A group of 17 GOP Congressmen wrote a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek stating that they would not support the extension of copyright protection for Mickey Mouse beyond the 2024 expiration date. LetterOf Republicans Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Chris Jacobs (R-NY), among others, he said Disney “has surrendered to far-left activists through hypocrisy, arousing corporate action” and pointed to the company’s opposition to the Florida class. invoice.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment. The Business Roundtable, which includes the CEOs of America’s largest companies, declined to comment.

Billed as the world’s largest business organization, the US Chamber of Commerce indirectly addressed the issue of GOP lawmakers seeking retaliation against companies that oppose them on social issues.

“It’s a longstanding position in the House that policymakers judge policies on the merits of policy and what is good for promoting the well-being of the electorate and the nation,” said House spokesman Tim Doyle.

“I think we’re torn as to how Corporate America is going to go,” said Didi Kuo, a senior research fellow in Stanford’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

Kuo said companies would prefer to avoid these problems. But old rules about how the policy and business mix has changed. Kuo said the Republican Party promotes less mainstream views on some cultural issues, making it harder for companies to navigate.

This stirred up some familiar allegiances. In 2017, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) helped pass one of the biggest corporate tax cuts in history, but last April he sent a message to companies: “My warning to Corporate America is to stay out of politics.”

McConnell’s outburst came in response to Corporate America’s opposition to Georgia’s voting law passed in March 2021. Opponents said the law was intended to make it harder for some people to vote.

Hundreds of companies, from Target to Microsoft to American Airlines, signed a statement calling the “lifeblood of democracy” for the vote and said “we must ensure the right to vote for all of us”.

Major League Baseball has decided to pull the All-Star Game from Georgia that summer.

Ed Bastian, leader of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, told employees what he thought of the legislation, including “the final bill is unacceptable and does not align with Delta’s values.”

This did not please some Republicans.

How two Black CEOs convinced corporate America to pay attention to voting rights

You s. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill To remove MLB from the antitrust exemption that classifies the league as a sport rather than a business.

“If Major League Baseball is going to act dishonestly and spread lies about Georgia’s suffrage bill to favor one side over the other, they shouldn’t expect to continue receiving special benefits from Congress,” Cruz said in a statement.

The bill didn’t go anywhere. But their purpose was accomplished.

And Georgia’s Republican-controlled Congress voted to cancel the jet fuel tax cut used by Delta to save at least $35 million a year. But that bill died just before the transition.

Georgia’s lawmakers passed a similar bill after it ended its partnership with the National Rifle Association in response to the school shooting in Delta, Parkland, Fla. Nathan Deal, also a Republican, stopped collecting taxes months later.

Jeffery Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor with close ties to corporate boards of directors, said companies are not backing down from tackling what he calls “cancelling the GOP culture major threats.”

“Companies are mocking this pathetic barking of dogs chained by their garages,” he wrote in an email to The Washington Post, noting how the “Trump-driven GOP” has already lost mainstream US business.

Dozens of companies said President Biden had stopped or stopped making political donations to Republicans in Congress who voted against confirming the 2020 election. At least 600 companies signed petitions against Republican-led voting access restrictions last year.

One unusual aspect of DeSantis’ threats to Disney was that he seemed willing to follow along. However, it’s unclear what the impact would be if Disney World lost its exclusive region privileges.

Disney is more vulnerable to threats of political retribution because they often lack a corporate trump card: They lack the ability to act easily.

Benjamin Means, a professor of business law at the University of South Carolina, has studied what he calls “corporate exit”—whether it’s relocating headquarters or changing investments.

“Disney, they can’t really just take their ball and go home,” Means said. “You can’t relocate Disney World.”

But DeSantis’ tactics could make Disney rethink future investments. California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, asked the company to reconsider moving 2,000 jobs from his home state to Florida.

Colorado’s Democratic Government, Jared Polis, has used the recent turmoil to make statements to Disney and Twitter—the tech company has also been criticized by DeSantis for opposing a takeover bid from Telsa CEO Elon Musk.

“Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector are driving businesses away,” the police said. tweeted out.

Texas GOP politicians are also putting pressure on companies. Last year, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick attacked American Airlines for opposing changes to state voting laws.

“Texans are tired of companies that don’t share our values, that try to dictate public policy,” Patrick said after a long time. expression.

Political science professor Jewett said the politics of revenge does not help run a government.

“There is no way to make good public policy.”

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