Florida taxpayers to fund Ron DeSantis’ $4.5m legal battle with Disney

Florida governor Ron DeSantis

The board overseeing Disney World’s tax district has reportedly approved a $4.5 million (£3.7 million) budget for the year to fund Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing legal battle with the entertainment company.

The board, appointed by DeSantis, reportedly approved an overall budget of $194.5 million (£160.8 million) for the upcoming financial year, including an expected $4.5 million in legal fees for the legal battle, LGBTQ Nation reported.

According to the Washington Post, the case has already cost taxpayers in the region of $1.9 million (£1.6 million) this year.

The legal battle with Disney goes back to the passing of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation in March 2022, which limits LGBTQ+ education in schools.

Disney is suing DeSantis and his board for a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” in response to the company’s criticism of the law and vowing to help repeal it. The board responded by counter-suing.

DeSantis, who is running for the presidency, is facing the loss of his biggest campaign donor because of the “pointless” vendetta. Entrepreneur Kenneth Griffin told CNBC last month that he is reluctant to continue endorsing the governor’s run for the White House because of campaign strategy and the feud with Disney.

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Griffin, who has donated at least $5 million (£4.1 million) to the DeSantis campaign, said: “The ongoing battle with Disney is pointless. It doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”

As well as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, DeSantis has introduced legislation that severely limits abortion rights, attempting to ban drag and is looking to limit gender-affirming care for trans people.

In May, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the raft of legislation was so severe that LGBTQ+ people should take “extreme care” while visiting Florida or avoid going to the state altogether.

“Since the day he took office, governor DeSantis has weaponised his position to weave bigotry, hate and discrimination into public law for his own political gain,” HRC president Kelley Robinson claimed.