The battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company continues to heat up.
A new push from a DeSantis-controlled board has fought off initiatives previously followed by Disney.
What Happened: The diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee used by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which houses the Disney World theme park, is being eliminated, according to the Associated Press.
The practice of contracts being awarded based on goals of racial and gender parity will essentially be dismissed.
New district administrator Glenton Gilzean, a DeSantis appointee, said the previous practices were “illegal and simply un-American.”
“Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal,” Gilzean said. “As the former head of the Central Florida Urban League, a civil rights organization, I can say definitively that our community thrives only when we work together despite our differences.”
The previous administration awarded contracts based on racial and gender goals previously, Gilzean said, as shared by Deadline.
“In order to meet these quotas, it is estimated that the district had to pay millions of dollars more in order to find businesses who could comply.”
Gilzean said the practice by the board wasted taxpayer dollars.
Formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the governing body of the area of Florida has controlled items like utilities, zoning, and infrastructure for the area that covers Disney World.
After decades of control by Disney and its supporters, DeSantis helped get legislation passed by Florida state congress to appoint a new board of supervisors.
The district’s prohibition on DEI methods comes after DeSantis fought to prohibit similar practices at Florida’s colleges and universities.
A law was signed by DeSantis that blocks public colleges from their diversity programs receiving federal or state funding.
The Florida governor has also sought to ban businesses, colleges, and schools from giving training on race and oppression, with the “Stop WOKE” law. The enforcement of the law has been brought into question, with a federal judge blocking it in November saying it was “positively dystopian.”
The push to ban DEI practices by DeSantis and portions of Florida comes after the Supreme Court found affirmative action practices to be unconstitutional in a landmark ruling in June 2023.
It also comes on the heels of DeSantis’ “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. When Disney objected to the bill, DeSantis approved a bill in February that ended the self-governing powers Disney enjoyed in a district of Florida that houses Disney World — although the measure faces legal challenges.
DeSantis is currently running for president in the 2024 election and has seen his ratings in election polls hit record lows. Some political experts see his fight with the media company being a distraction during his campaign.
A Morning Consult poll saw DeSantis’ favorable rating drop from 56% in the first quarter to 54% in the second quarter among Florida voters. The disapproval rating for DeSantis increased from 38% to 42% from the first to the second quarter. DeSantis also saw his favorable rating drop from 91% to 87% among Republicans polled.
DIS Price Action: Disney shares trade at $85.94 at the time of writing, versus a 52-week trading range of $84.07 to $126.48. Shares of the media company are down 3.4% year-to-date in 2023 and down 18% over the last 52-weeks.
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