Disney CEO Bob Chapek has announced that the entertainment giant is suspending all political donations in Florida following the state’s recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The broader bill that Republicans claim is a way for parents to exert control over public school education has drawn national attention (and anger) to a provision that would block educators from mentioning orientation. sexuality and gender identity in schools.
Chapek spoke about the bill last week, revealing a behind-the-scenes strategy where he hoped to lobby state politicians without voicing public opposition on Disney’s behalf. This effort failed. In a note to employees shared by PoliticsChapek touted a review of the company’s political donation process and a more mindful approach to offering campaign support.
“Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree,” Chapek wrote. “Yes, we must use our influence to promote this good by telling inclusive stories, but also by defending the rights of all.”
Disney donated $4.8 million to Florida candidates in 2020 and has long had a cross-party approach to state politics, currying favor with Republicans and Democrats to add to its already considerable influence. as Central Florida’s largest employer and a massive tourist attraction. Chapek said he hopes Disney’s future “advocacy better reflects our values.”
Announcing the break, Chapek said Florida’s new legislation is “not just a Florida bill issue, but rather another challenge to basic human rights.”
Governor Ron DeSantis responded to criticism of Disney last week, saying the company panders to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party and denouncing “woke corporations.”
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