Disney donated some $4.8 million to Florida candidates in the 2020 election cycle, campaign finance reports show. Disney during the 2020 election cycle donated $913,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and another $586,000 to GOP Senate campaigns, records show. The company also donated $313,000 to the Florida Democratic Party and $50,000 directly to DeSantis.
But donations like these, at least for the time being, are expected to come to a halt.
On Friday, Chapek said that Disney is building a new framework for political contributions to ensure the company’s “advocacy better reflects our values.” As such, Disney will suspend donations during this review, which Chapek said is necessary because “this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.”
Opponents of Florida’s legislation, including employees of Disney, had strongly criticized the company and Chapek for not taking a stance, eventually leading to the CEO reaching out personally to DeSantis this week. Disney has over 70,000 employees in Florida as well as an amusement part in Orlando that remains a huge tourist destination.
“I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve,” Chapek wrote.
DeSantis, though, remains unyielding in his support for the legislation, which is currently awaiting his signature.
“When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kid’s kindergarten classroom,” DeSantis said at an event Thursday that was covered exclusively by Fox News and used in a campaign ad.
Florida has garnered national attention over the legislation sought by its GOP-dominated Legislature, which billed the measure as an expansion of parental rights in the state. Republicans claim the bill prevents teachers from keeping vital information about students from parents, particularly pertaining to gender issues.
The most contentious piece of the measure, which was dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents soon after its introduction, states that classroom instruction surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity is banned outright for young children and prohibited in other grades unless the lessons are “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
LGBTQ advocates spent weeks condemning the bill, which the state Senate approved on Tuesday, saying it will marginalize students and could lead to LGBTQ students being bullied or even committing suicide.
DeSantis and other Republicans have downplayed the conflict, claiming the media and Democrats have misconstrued what it says.
Chapek ramped up his efforts this week by calling DeSantis to express “disappointment and concern” over the bill and pushing for a meeting with the Republican governor and LGBTQ company leaders over its possible impact. It doesn’t appear this conversation had much of an effect on Desantis.
In response to the decision from Disney, DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw on Friday tweeted: “Woke corporations do not have veto power over bills passed by a legitimately elected state legislature … If CEOs want to make policy, they should quit and try running for elected office in Florida on a ‘K-3 gender studies’
Matt Dixon contributed to this report.