DeSantis' Staff Worked With Disney to Help Craft 'Embarrassing' Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he's "embarrass[ed]" by a recent law in which emails show his staff worked with the Walt Disney Company that created a special exemption for the popular entertainment company.

Last week, as the feud between DeSantis and the house of mouse continued, the Florida governor brought up a bill—SB 7072—which he signed into law last year, according to Business Insider. It's a law that the governor on Friday referred to as "embarrassing," the Miami Herald reported. However, the law, the paper reports, was written, in part, with the assistance of members of the governor's staff who were in communication with Disney.

According to the Miami Herald, Republican sponsors of the bill added a last-minute provision to the law, exempting Disney. DeSantis, during a press conference Friday, said that "at the eleventh hour when the Legislature was doing this, Disney got them to put in a carveout for theme parks," the paper reports.

Ron DeSantis
Photo of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Miami on January 26, 2022, in Miami, Florida. DeSantis has called a law in which emails show his staff worked on with Disney "embarrassing." Joe Raedle/Getty Images

But the Miami Herald also reports the governor's director of legislative affairs was sharing emails from Disney with suggestions for the bill with such headlines as "Latest from disney" and "New Disney language." The emails, the paper points out, contained a number of clauses for possible addition to the bill that would exempt the company from the bill by updating and changing how a social media platform is defined.

The paper reports there were a number of emails on the subject sent back and forth between members of DeSantis' staff and legislators, including his chief budget and policy chief and his then-general counsel, according to the Miami Herald.

DeSantis mentioned on Friday that he thought to himself at the time that the provision for Disney was "ridiculous" and "honestly embarrassing."

The bill, Insider reports, was an attempt to protect people from being censured online by social media companies. According to a summary of the bill, "the bill prohibits a social media platform from willfully deplatforming a candidate for political office and allows the Florida Elections Commission to fine a social media platform $250,000 per day for deplatforming a candidate for statewide office and $25,000 per day for deplatforming any other candidate."

However, language in the bill does appear to have created a loophole for Disney. The way in which the bill defines the term "social media platform." In the bill, "social media platform" is defined as "the term does not include any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex."

The paper also points out that the law is currently being challenged by several groups. A judge kept it from going into effect last summer, pointing out the exemption created for those companies which do own theme parks.

When asked for comment, a press secretary in DeSantis said to Newsweek that "Governor DeSantis has spoken for himself on this, and I do not have anything to add."

This comes after last week when a federal lawsuit was filed challenging Florida's newly-signed Parents Right in Education Bill, which opponents have labeled as the "Don't Say Gay" law.

Also on Friday, the song Sweet Florida praising DeSantis for his work while in office was released. The song's lyrics state DeSantis stands "up for what he believes," and tells people not to "come down here and try to change things" because "we're doing alright in the Sunshine State" and encourages people to "stay out of our business."

Newsweek reached out to Disney for comment but did not hear back before publication.