Disney Gave at Least $250K to Senators That Voted for 'Don't Say Gay' Bill

Disney donated at least $250,000 to Florida Republican senators who voted to pass the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill on Tuesday.

The bill—which passed the Senate and is widely expected to be signed into law by GOP Governor Ron DeSantis—sparked national condemnation from LGBTQ advocates who say the bill will further harm young members of the community and punish students who mention anything related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Disney, which operates its theme park Walt Disney World near Orlando, has come under scrutiny for making political donations to key co-sponsors of the bill.

Disney donated at least $253,850 to the senators who voted to pass the bill. The donations were made through the company's various subsidiaries including Disney Destinations LLC and Disney Photo Imaging LLC.

The donations included $5,500 to Senator Dennis Baxley, who introduced the bill, according to data from the nonprofit OpenSecrets, which tracks political donations.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, who voted for the bill, received $21,500 in donations from Disney. Senators Manny Diaz Jr. and Debbie Mayfield also received more than $20,000 from Disney throughout their various political campaigns.

The donations have prompted calls to boycott the company, as its CEO Bob Chapek has not publicly condemned the legislation.

Disney heiress Abigail Disney, the grandniece of company founder Walt Disney, also condemned Chapek on Twitter after the bill was passed Tuesday.

"Nothing about the don't say gay bill or about Chapek's memo is consistent with any of these values. Many LGBTQI people and their allies work for or look to Disney for ally-ship. But Chapek is more worried about right-wing backlash than about his own loyal fans and employees," she wrote.

She added: "When one side is asking to wipe the other from the face of the earth, whether for reasons of sexuality, race or for any other reason, looking for the sidelines is craven and morally bankrupt."

In an internal company memo, Chapek acknowledged the situation, writing the company has "more work to do" while also highlighting millions of dollars donated to LGBTQ charities.

"I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of statement for a lack of support. We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there," he wrote.

When reached by Newsweek, a Disney spokesperson referred to the internal memo.

"While we have not given money to any politician based on this issue, we have contributed to both Republican and Democrat legislators who have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation," Chapek wrote, adding the company will be "reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world—including political giving."

The decision has sparked public backlash among some employees. Benjamin Siemon, a Disney writer, condemned the company for not speaking up about the bill.

"When politicians and companies make choices that hurt minorities, they don't want to think about the faces behind them and people behind them," he said in a video posted to Twitter.

Updated 03/08/2022 5:37 p.m. with response from Disney.

Disney donated $250k to lawmakers
Disney donated more than $250,000 to Florida senators who voted for the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Above, fireworks set off at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando in December 2013. Mark Ashman/Disney Parks via Getty Images