Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republicans target Walt Disney World's Reedy Creek government following 'Don't Say Gay' bill criticism

click to enlarge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republicans target Walt Disney World's Reedy Creek government following 'Don't Say Gay' bill criticism
Photo via Disney

Politics in Florida makes strange bedfellows.

We'd largely agree that allowing Walt Disney World to have its own private government in Reedy Creek is antithetical to democracy and corporate accountability in Florida. That the House of Mouse government is being questioned by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans due to the company's stance on a hateful bill is another matter.

DeSantis questioned the Reedy Creek Improvement Association during a speech in West Palm Beach on Thursday.

“As a matter of first principle, I don’t support special privileges in law, just because a company is powerful, and they’ve been able to wield a lot of power,” he said, per the Orlando Sentinel.

The governor's speech came after North Fort Myers Rep. Spencer Roach revealed the 1967 law creating the Disney government was under review by Florida Republicans.

Fair enough. The Reedy Creek Improvement District — or "the Vatican with mouse ears," as Rollins College professor and acknowledged Disney expert Rick Foglesong calls it — is a more-than-questionable accommodation made by Lawmakers back then in pursuit of Disney dollars.

But like DeSantis' speech, Roach's comments were made amid a flurry of bad-faith allegations against Disney for the crime of limply standing up against an outwardly evil bill following pressure from employees and customers.  He shared the tweet next to reshares of news stories about Disney employees who were arrested as part of a massive sting around solicitation of sex workers and  inappropriate communication with minors.

Before we even address the fact of the Disney employees' involvement, we should note that it is gross and misleading to label solicitation of sex workers in remotely the same arena as sending inappropriate photos and messages to a minor.  One of four former Disney employees was arrested for allegedly sending messages to a detective he believed was a 14-year-old girl. The other three were all busted during a sting related to adult sex workers. Painting them with the same broad brush is gross and intentionally inflammatory. 

(If Florida Republicans want someone who allegedly solicited a sex worker who was also underage, perhaps they should look within.)

Four of the 108 people arrested in the sting were Disney employees. Sorry to get a little mathy with you, but that works out to a little over 3 percent of the people arrested. That is actually less than the percentage of the Central Florida workforce who works directly for Disney (6 percent). Finding Disney employees among a mass arrest in Central Florida isn't novel.  It would be weird if you didn't.

Still, Republicans will no doubt use this rhetoric in service of their (admittedly understandable and probably correct) goal of stripping Disney of its private government. Swallowing a dose of "Disney are agents of the Communist Party of China" might just be the unpleasant medicine to cure a governmental illness.

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