A Florida court issued a summons Thursday against Gov. Ron DeSantis in relation to Disney’s lawsuit against him, while DeSantis is more than 6,000 miles away from the state on a trip to Israel.
The summons, which was addressed to the governor’s office in Tallahassee, was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
“A lawsuit has been filed against you,” it says, adding that “[w]ithin 21 days after service of this summons on you (not counting the day you received it)… you must serve on the plaintiff an answer to the attached complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis on Wednesday, alleging the Republican orchestrated a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” against the company that violates Disney’s free speech rights. Disney is challenging the legality of a new board appointed by DeSantis to govern the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District – where the Walt Disney World resort is located.
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The legal complaint is an escalation of a fight between DeSantis and Disney that began last year when the company campaigned to overturn Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.
DeSantis responded by pushing the Florida legislature to strip Disney’s self-governing authority and create a new board, full of his appointees, which now has control over the theme park’s development.
That board recently voted to nullify two development contracts Disney signed in February.
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“I don’t think the suit has merit,” the governor said in Jerusalem Thursday when asked about the matter.
“They’re upset because they’re having to live by the same rules as everybody else. They don’t want to pay the same taxes as everybody else, and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight,” DeSantis said. “The days of putting one company on a pedestal with no accountability are over in the state of Florida.”
While in Jerusalem Thursday, DeSantis spoke glowingly of Israel during a speech in celebration of the country’s 75th anniversary of independence.
DeSantis called Israel a “beacon of freedom in a troubled region, an engine of economic growth and opportunity, and a center of innovation and technology that is the envy of the world.”
“Israel is also one of America’s most valued and trusted allies,” DeSantis said. “Maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship has been a priority for me during my time in elected office and I know it’s been a priority for the majority of American people.”
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo and Timothy H.J. Nerozzi, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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