A conservative lawyer who worked for Donald Trump’s campaign said she believes Disney could succeed in a lawsuit against Florida to block a new law removing the company’s special tax and zoning liens.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill to dissolve the private government that Disney controls over its vast property in the state, punishing the entertainment giant for opposing state law. banning school lessons on gender or sexual orientation before fourth grade.
Attorney Jenna Ellis said while she disagrees with Disney’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Florida’s decision to punish the company amounts to a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.
“I openly disagree with Disney’s statements and have openly congratulated Florida Republicans on their Parental Rights in Education Bill,” Ellis told the radio host. Dan Caplis Friday.
“But where they’ve crossed the line constitutionally … is that Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans are now retaliating against Disney for exercising their constitutionally protected free speech rights,” Ellis said.
Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis said she believes Disney could succeed in a lawsuit against Florida to block a new law removing the company’s special tax and zoning liens.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reacts after publicly signing HB7, “individual liberty,” also dubbed the “stop woke” bill during a news conference in Hialeah Gardens on Friday
‘Imagine if it was California, this governor [Gavin] Newsom was directly targeting a conservative company in retaliation for expressing conservative views on California politics. Everyone on the right would be the first to denounce this as a petty tyranny,” she continued.
Ellis argued that DeSantis and Republicans in the Florida Legislature had “openly admitted and in fact touted that retaliation was their motive.”
Indeed, the high-profile governor hammered Disney for speaking out against the education bill, portraying the company as a purveyor of “woke” ideology that injects inappropriate subject matter into children’s entertainment.
In a fundraising pitch sent out this week, DeSantis told his supporters, “It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.”
“You are a corporation based in Burbank, Calif., and you are going to harness your economic might to attack parents in my state,” DeSantis said Friday before signing the bill in a ceremony at Hialeah Gardens.
“We see this as a provocation and we will fight against it,” he added.
For Ellis, these statements present a ripe opportunity for Disney to mount a legal challenge.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addresses the crowd before publicly signing HB7, “Personal Liberty”, also dubbed the “stop woke” bill
Ellis (right with Trump’s legal team in 2020) said while she disagrees with Disney, Florida’s decision to punish the company amounts to an attack on free speech
“This is a First Amendment retaliatory claim that I think Disney is likely to pursue, and they will win.”
Ellis went on to say that she supported private citizens who wanted to punish Disney by boycotting the company’s products or selling their shares in the company, but said the government was prohibited from retaliating.
“This is for the government to take an unconstitutional step because the government is obligated to protect everyone’s free speech,” she said.
On Twitter, Ellis even offered an ‘open offer’ to represent Disney in a lawsuit against Florida – although the company, which is worth $220 billion, no doubt has a group of lawyers thorough considering the legal options. .
“It arms the government to penalize a company for exercising constitutionally protected speech,” she tweeted.
“It crosses the line between doing politics and a government acting illegally.”
Florida’s new law is expected to have huge tax implications for Disney and further strain relations between the Republican-led government and a major political player whose theme parks have turned Orlando into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. world.
New Florida law expected to have huge tax implications for Disney
A person wearing a mouse costume holds a poster of Governor Ron DeSantis
For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is the latest front in a culture war being waged against policies involving race, gender and the coronavirus, battles he fought to become one of the nation’s most popular Republicans. and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.
The law would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the 55-year-old Disney government is known, along with a handful of other similar districts by June 2023.
The measure allows for the reinstatement of districts, leaving an opportunity to renegotiate the future of the agreement that allows the company to provide services such as zoning, fire protection, utilities and infrastructure.
DeSantis said Friday the company will end up paying more taxes than it does now and the law shouldn’t result in higher taxes for residents around Disney. He gave no further details.
The dispute began with Disney’s criticism of a new law that bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as teaching that is not “customer-friendly”. ‘age or development’.
DeSantis and his fellow Republicans have defended the law as reasonable, saying parents, not teachers, should discuss these topics with children.
Democrats called Disney’s move a petty retaliation, warning owners could face tax bills if they were to absorb the company’s costs, though the specifics are far from clear.
“The devil is in the details and we don’t have the details today,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, whose county is partly home to Disney World.
He added that it would be “catastrophic for our budget” if the county had to bear the costs of public safety at the theme park.
Disney is one of Florida’s largest private employers, saying last year it had more than 60,000 workers in the state. It is not immediately clear how the company or local governments around its properties would be affected if the district were disbanded.
The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and the control it gave Disney of 27,000 acres in Florida was a crucial element in the company’s construction projects near Orlando in the 1960s.
Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it turned into an Epcot theme park.