Disney betting big against gambling

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High stakes issues are causing Florida businesses to beef up their political campaign contributions this election year. With the threat of Las Vegas-style casinos on the horizon, Walt Disney World has pumped nearly $2.5 million into this election cycle.

Almost 90 percent of Disney’s contributions have gone to Republican candidates or Republican-leaning interest groups. According to a report by the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has spent twice as much as it had at this point in the 2010 election cycle.

“It is definitely Disney flexing its bicep,” said Tom Lee, former Republican state Senate President, now running again for the Senate in Tampa. “Disney is betting the farm on trying to block the expansion of gambling in Florida.”

Disney joins a host of other large businesses in Florida who have contributed over $2 million to campaigns and committees, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, U.S. Sugar Corp. and Florida Power & Light.

On Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Darden Restaurants, parent company to chain restaurants including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, have quadrupled their PAC contributions on the national level. Issues such as food safety and modifications to the tax code are high on their radar for long term profitability.

According to Chip Kunde, the company’s vice president of government relations, Darden’s focus is “to increase our relationship-building with public-policy makers. The PAC is certainly part of that.” Kunde says they want to “support candidates really on a national scale rather than being regional or focusing on Florida.”

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