Allies of Florida governor countersue Disney as legal battle grows

MIAMI – A Florida government panel allied with Governor Ron DeSantis has filed a countersuit against Disney on Monday, adding another layer to the escalating legal battle between the conservative governor and the entertainment giant.

Disney, a major employer in the southern state with its Orlando-based Walt Disney World theme park, has been under increasing legal sanction by the governor after it spoke out last year against a DeSantis-backed education bill concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth.

Mr DeSantis, a rising conservative star with presidential ambitions, called out the “woke” corporation as part of his battle with institutions he deems too progressive.

In February, Mr DeSantis removed Disney’s control of its special self-governing district, which allowed the city-sized park to run its own zoning and infrastructure projects, exempt from state regulations.

And on Wednesday, the DeSantis-appointed panel that then took control of the district voted to vacate the longstanding agreements that gave Disney effective powers of self-governance at the park.

In response, Disney filed suit against Mr DeSantis, alleging “a targeted campaign of government retaliation” for Disney’s political positions.

Monday’s countersuit was filed by the same DeSantis-backed panel that voted to remove Disney’s self-governing abilities, in an effort to retain its control over the district and void past agreements with the company.

The 44-year-old governor has flexed his fight against Disney as a badge of honour in his quest against liberal companies and institutions, with the fight occupying an entire chapter of his recent autobiography.

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