Disney’s political power in Florida reveal in new article

The House of Mouse influence grew a bit in the minds of Politico readers as the site outed the incredbile political power Disney leverages in Florida, particularly in the battle against expanded casino gambling in the Sunshine State.

“This is a power-driven company,” says Dr. Richard Foglesong in the article. “In California, where Democrats are in charge, they lean left. In Florida, where the opposite is true, they favor Republicans. Nonetheless, their desire to curry favor with the dominant Republican Party in Florida, aimed at combating the threat of South Florida gambling casinos, has financed the state GOP’s increasing drift to the right.”

As detailed in the coverage, Disney balances politics against their bottom line and public image.

“They’re very, very good and disciplined and effective at protecting that brand,” says Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Republican from the Tampa area, to Politico.

They detail the support for the major two parties:

In the run-up to the 2012 elections in anticipation of the most recent push for casino gambling, Disney made some $2.5 million in campaign contributions—a six-fold increase over 2008, according to research by the Orlando Sentinel. The news outlet found that Disney gave 90 percent of its donations to Republicans or right-leaning interest groups.

At the time, Disney said it supported candidates opposed to casino gambling.

Right….left…Disney is concerned more about the threat to their brand.

John Sowinski, president of the No Casinos lobbying group formed in 1978 by then-Gov. Reubin Askew and heavily funded by Disney, believes Disney is genuinely focused on the state’s image. Otherwise, he says, Disney could have chosen to add gambling to its cruise ships sailing out of Florida.

Led by gaming giant Genting Group, the most recent unsuccessful attempt to force a 2014 statewide referendum in favor of resort-style casinos offers a window into Disney’s political style.

Check out the full Politico analysis here


photo courtesy of Politico

photo courtesy of Politico

“You had Genting come in from Malaysia, hiring every lobbyist in town and throwing donations all over the place,” Corcoran recalls. “They crashed onto the scene.”

Corcoran says he found Disney’s approach to be near opposite.

“I’m not sure who Disney’s lobbyists are. The people I know best are their business execs. Those are the ones who come and talk and say, ‘hey, this will be the impact on the state of Florida,’” says Corcoran. “I think it’s an extension of everything they do. Everything is on a personal level.”

The impression left is that Disney persuades in Tallahassee through the same solicitous attention and soft-sell marketing that keeps theme-park guests content under a willing suspension of disbelief.



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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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