(The Hill) – The board picked by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to oversee Disney in the state said it will sue the company, escalating the feud between the entertainment giant and the Republican governor after the company sued the state in federal court last week.
Disney sued Florida, alleging that the state unjustly retaliated against it for its public opposition to a law in the state that prohibits the teaching of gender identity and sexuality for certain grades, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Martin Garcia, the chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, whose members were appointed by DeSantis to oversee Disney’s development in the state, said at a meeting on Monday that the board would sue the company in state court.
“Disney sued us, we have no choice now but to respond,” Garcia said. “The district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where both it and Disney reside and do business.”
The Hill has reached out to Disney for comment.
The fight between Disney and DeSantis has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. After the company criticized the education policy in Florida, DeSantis and Republican lawmakers moved to remove from the company its special status it had over the district that its theme park is in.
Days before the DeSantis-appointed board members were set to take over, though, Disney-aligned members passed an agreement with the company that gave it authority over its development in the state for the long term.
The fight with Disney has put a spotlight on DeSantis’s focus on cultural issues, deriding “liberal” companies for embracing “woke” policies. It is one way that the likely presidential hopeful has built his national political profile.
But he has faced growing criticism from Republicans in recent weeks for continuing the battle with Disney, including the likes of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said it was not “conservative” to tell companies what they can and cannot say, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said DeSantis has “gone on the wrong path.”