Bonds

Dumping Disney: S.C. Treasurer removes firm from investment list

South Carolina has removed the Walt Disney Co. from its list of approved investments, State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said Tuesday.

Loftis’ office said its portfolio contains $105 million of Disney debt securities that will mature as scheduled and will not be replaced.

“Disney has abandoned its fiduciary responsibilities to its investors and customers,” said South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis.

State Treasurer’s Office

Loftis said he will focus on how to handle the Disney shares in the state’s equity portfolio in the next few weeks.

“Disney has abandoned its fiduciary responsibilities to its investors and customers by joining far-left activists in boycotting legal, taxpaying, employment-creating corporations to further Disney’s political agenda,” Loftis said.

Loftis is serving his fourth term as state treasurer. He manages about $70 billion a year in state funds and serves on various boards and commissions.

“Multi-billion-dollar corporations should not engage in boycotts designed to silence legitimate debate,” Loftis said. “Since America’s founding, freedom of speech has been one of its core principals, and Disney should not engage in nefarious practices aimed at silencing those with less power and money.”

South Carolina isn’t the only state to have tangled with Disney.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in February that renamed the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which ended Disney’s governance of the special district.

The Florida Legislature approved a bill in 2022 to dissolve all independent special districts created before 1968. The bill’s authors and DeSantis made it clear it was intended to punish Disney.

Disney had voiced strong political opposition to the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law bans public school instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity for children through the third grade.

“This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes,” DeSantis said at the bill signing ceremony.

In April, Disney filed a suit in federal court, saying that DeSantis and the state punished it and violated its First Amendment rights.

The DeSantis-Disney feud continued after the outgoing Disney-backed RCID board approved last-minute agreements with the company to limit the powers of the incoming DeSantis-picked board by restricting its decision-making powers. The new CFTOD board responded by voting to nullify the previous agreements.

Disney then expanded its lawsuit after the action, saying that “at the governor’s bidding, the state’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which had laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs.”

In September, Disney asked the court to withdraw four of its five claims against DeSantis and the CFTOD, which would leave only the free speech allegations. 

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