Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the entertainment giant is halting all political donations in Florida in the wake of the state's recently passed "Don't Say Gay" bill.
The wider bill that Republicans claim is a way for parents to exert control over public school education has drawn national attention (and ire) for a provision that would bar educators from mentioning sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
Chapek spoke on the bill last week, revealing a behind-the-scenes strategy where he hoped to pressure state politicians without voicing public opposition on behalf of Disney. That effort failed. In a memo to employees shared by Politico, Chapek touted a review of the company's political donation process and a more mindful approach to offering campaigns support.
“Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree,” Chapek wrote. “Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.”
Disney donated $4.8 million to Florida candidates in 2020 and has long had an all-sides approach to state politics, currying favor with Republicans and Democrats to add to its already sizable influence as Central Florida's largest employer and a massive tourism draw. Chapek said he hopes that Disney's future “advocacy better reflects our values.”
In announcing the pause, Chapek said that Florida's new legislation is "not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to Disney's criticisms last week, saying the company was bending to the whims of the Communist Party of China and denouncing "woke corporations."
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