Governor DeSantis Urges Action Against Bud Light's Parent Company
July 21, 2023: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is calling on the state’s pension fund manager to take legal action against AB InBev, the parent company of Bud Light. The governor’s call comes in response to conservative criticism of Bud Light’s recent marketing efforts, mainly its association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The partnership sparked a backlash among conservatives, leading to a boycott and a decline in Bud Light sales.
In a letter addressed to Lamar Taylor, the interim director of the State Board of Administration, DeSantis suggests that AB InBev may have “breached legal duties owed to its shareholders” by aligning with what he refers to as “radical social ideologies.” As the trustee overseeing Florida’s retirement funds for public workers, DeSantis aims to ensure that the state’s investments prioritize financial returns rather than promoting any ideological agendas.
The governor has not ruled out any potential actions, stating that “all options are on the table.” One possibility he mentioned is the consideration of a “derivative lawsuit” against AB InBev. Such lawsuits, filed by shareholders on behalf of a company, allege a breach of duties by the corporation’s directors or officers.
At the end of March, Florida’s pension fund held over 682,000 shares of AB InBev, valued at nearly $46 million. Since then, the company’s stock price has experienced fluctuations but remains higher than its 52-week low in September 2022.
This is not the first time Governor DeSantis has used Florida’s pension investments to influence political and corporate matters. In the past, he threatened to hold Twitter shareholders accountable and pushed for rules that prevented investors from considering environmental and social aspects when deciding where to invest Florida’s retirement assets.
DeSantis’ latest move against “woke capitalism” follows his high-profile clashes with corporate giants like the Walt Disney Company. The governor is currently involved in lawsuits with Disney over state law on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
In response to DeSantis’ call for action against AB InBev, the company still needs to provide an official statement. The governor’s actions highlight the growing tension between corporations and conservative values, with financial decisions used to voice dissent.
As this situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the state’s pension fund manager will respond and whether any legal actions will be pursued. The outcome could have significant implications for AB InBev and the more considerable debate surrounding corporate responsibility and ideology in the business world.