One investor in The Walt Disney Company is going after the House of Mouse after the entertainment behemoth unrelentingly condemned Florida’s parental rights law.
In a 22-page lawsuit filed Friday, Kenneth Simeone demanded Disney turn over its internal records about its opposition to a law many on the left and in the media mischaracterized as the “Don’t Say Gay bill.” In the filing, Simeone said the harm caused by Disney’s actions has been “swift and severe.”
“The financial repercussions from Disney’s actions, and resulting harm to the company and its stockholders, have been swift and severe,” he claimed in a court filing, according to the New York Post.
The law in question, it should be noted, prohibits public school educators from teaching children in pre-K through third-grade classrooms about gender identity and sexual orientation.
As a result of the criticism of the law — led by now-former Disney CEO Bob Chapek — the company lost its special tax privileges. As CBN’s Faithwire reported, beginning in June of 2023, Disney self-governing status, its Reedy Creek Improvement District, will dissolve.
Not only will Disney lose many tax benefits, the company will also lose a great deal of its autonomy in addressing its own problems as well as making improvements to the Orlando-based parks internally.
When the RCID agreement lapses, Disney could be weighed down by billions of dollars of debt.
The board of The Walt Disney Company ousted Chapek in late November, reinstating his predecessor, Bob Iger, as the company’s chief executive.
Iger, for his part, said he regrets Disney was “dragged” into a political battle with Florida lawmakers.
“What I can say is, the state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida,” he said during a town-hall event with Disney staffers. “That is something I’m extremely mindful of and will articulate if I get the chance.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), though, sees the situation differently. He argued during an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the state “didn’t drag them in” to the debate, arguing, “They went in on their own, and not only opposed the bill. They threatened to get it repealed.”
DeSantis was referring to a statement Disney released in late March, in which the company said its “goal” was to see the Parental Rights in Education law “repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
“These are parents’ rights, important policies in our state that are very popular,” he said. “And so they brought this on themselves. All we did was stand up for what’s right. And, yes, they’re a big, powerful company. But you know what? We stand up for our folks. And I don’t care what a Burbank-based California company says about our laws.”
Disney’s favorability has taken a nosedive since the controversy over the Florida law.
In May, a survey commissioned by NBC News found just 33% of respondents had a “very” or “somewhat” positive view of The Walt Disney Company. Those numbers came one year after a different polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, conducting a similar study, finding 77% had a favorable view of Disney.
At the time this story was published Disney had not addressed the “books and records” lawsuit.