Former DeSantis Ally Turns, Sends 1,200 Employees to Party at Disney

in Disney, Tokyo Disneyland

Ron DeSantis with his hands raised next to Mickey Mouse in a white dinner coat

Credit: Inside the Magic

Controversial Florida Governor Ron DeSantis got more bad news today, as one of his biggest former allies seemingly snubbed him by bringing over a thousand employees to a Disney celebration.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis standing in front of the American flag
Credit: Ron DeSantis

Until recently, Ron DeSantis could count on Citadel founder Ken Griffin as one of his staunchest allies in his attempts at anti-woke legislation in Florida and his ongoing presidential campaign. Griffin is one of the most prominent conservative mega-donors in the United States, frequently supporting GOP candidates like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

In 2021 alone, Ken Griffin donated a staggering $5 million to Ron DeSantis’ gubernatorial election campaign (via a PAC). In short, the Citadel founder is a kingmaker in conservative circles.

However, it seems that Ken Griffin has begun to turn on DeSantis, particularly over his campaign against the Walt Disney Company and its former Reedy Creek Improvement District. He publically stated that he would not be backing any Republican candidate for president and specifically called out DeSantis’ feud with Disney, saying, “It’s not clear to me what voter base he is intending to appeal to…the ongoing battle with Disney, I think, is pointless, it doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis laughing in front of the entrance to Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

Related: DeSantis Board Accused of Inside Trading, Separation From Disney World Imminent

It is difficult to see Ken Griffin’s recent choice to pay for a three-day Tokyo Disneyland celebration of the anniversary of the founding of Citadel for a whopping 1,200 employees and family (per Bloomberg) as anything but a deliberate strike against the Florida governor and his “pointless” conflict.

Citadel is the most successful hedge fund in history, with approximately $62 billion dollars under its management. In other words, Ken Griffin makes a lot of money.

Tokyo DisneySea American Waterfront Toy Story Mania!
Credit: Katie Chapman

That notwithstanding, paying for over a thousand people from six Citadel offices across the Asian Pacific to celebrate for three days at a Disney Resort is not cheap for anyone. Reportedly, Ken Griffin and Citadel Securities LLC CEO Zhao Peng were both present for the event, which included entertainment by DJ Calvin Harris and rock band Maroon 5.

While Ron DeSantis was not directly involved or referenced in the Citadel event at Tokyo Disneyland, it cannot feel great to have one of your formerly largest financial donors publically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at a company you are publically feuding with.

Related: Dozens of Employees Quit over DeSantis’ “Incompetent” Disney Takeover

At the moment, DeSantis is involved in two different lawsuits around Walt Disney World, one in federal court and one in state court. The latter case has been slowed down for months, allegedly due to his handpicked Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board not providing evidentiary documents and “dragging its feet.”

The federal case, in which Disney has accused the governor of violating its First Amendment rights, may very well be one of the more significant legal decisions in decades, at least if you believe the House of Mouse.

Is Ron DeSantis losing big-ticket supporters? Give us some opinions in the comments below!

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