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Rubio attacks Disney for opposing 'Don't Say Gay' law but holds on to money it gave him

The Republican Florida senator has taken at least $9,000 from Disney’s corporate PAC this election cycle alone.

By Josh Israel - April 21, 2022
Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is accusing the Walt Disney Company of hypocrisy, lying, and abusing its corporate power over its statements opposing Florida’s anti-LGBTQ “Don’t Say Gay” law. But he has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Disney’s corporate PAC — including at least $9,000 this cycle alone for his 2022 reelection bid.

“Disney doesn’t say a word about the dictatorship in #China because it would cost them billions of $’s,” Rubio tweeted Wednesday. “But they have no problem using their corporate power to lie about laws passed by democratically elected legislators in #Florida.”

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 1557, called “Parental Rights in Education,” on March 28. The law prohibits public school teachers and staff from mentioning LGBTQ people or issues to students earlier than the fourth grade.

Rubio shared a video of himself on a local news show endorsing an attempt by DeSantis and the GOP majority in the state legislature to punish Disney by taking away its unique self-governance powers after Disney’s leadership spoke out against H.B. 1557.

According to Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR, Disney had suspended political donations in Florida in response to the bill’s advancement in the Legislature. Asked during a press conference about the effect on the business community the legislation would have, DeSantis told reporters on March 14:

I think people need to get out of their bubble and actually talk to parents in this state, cause they do not want this in kindergarten or 1st grade or 2nd grade. We want our kids to be kids. … We’ve got a great business climate, we have the lowest per capita tax burden in the country and you know we have a very diverse workforce with a lot of different skills because of our initiatives to really help people with concrete skills. So we’re going to continue to be a great place to be and I think some people that live in a bubble can think something but that’s just not the reality.

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw on March 7 used her personal Twitter account to smear opponents of the bill as being in favor of “grooming” children to be LGBTQ: “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

Disney, after initially being silent on the bill, came out against it in early March. Immediately after its enactment, the company put out a statement calling for it to “be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.”

Rubio blasted the company on March 29, writing, “The @WaltDisneyCo filmed Mulan near #Uighur genocide camps & then thanked the people who run those camps in the credits. But they are outraged that Florida schools will not be indoctrinating 5-year olds on ‘gender identity.'”

This is not the first time Rubio has suggested that Disney is an immoral company.

During his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign, he said the company “abused” the H-1B visa program to hire foreign workers while laying off hundreds of Florida-based employees. “If a company is caught doing that, Disney or anyone else, they should be barred from using that program in the future,” he said during a March 2016 Republican debate.

But none of his concerns has stopped him from accepting more than $25,000 from Disney’s PAC over his political career.

Since the start of 2021, Rubio has accepted three such contributions totaling $9,000.

A Rubio spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about whether he plans to return any of the funds.

Rubio’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing, covering the first quarter of 2022, indicates that he had not done so by March 31, weeks after Disney’s initial public criticism of the legislation.

A Disney spokesperson also did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Rubio has been happy to take money from businesses whose corporate values he decries, including Delta, Coca-Cola, and Major League Baseball after those companies opposed new restrictive voting laws in Georgia in 2021.

Just last month, he hosted a campaign fundraising event at a National Basketball Association game in Washington, D.C. despite having repeatedly denounced the basketball league as a “partner” of “the Chinese Communist Party.”

After Rubio’s failed presidential bid, he won a second term in the Senate in 2016 on a promise to be an ally to Florida’s LGBTQ community, which had just endured a horrific mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando.

But since that time, he has reverted to his old anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and, according to the Human Rights Campaign, has voted against LGBTQ rights 100% of the time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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