February 21, 2024

Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is taking aim at Dylan Mulvaney’s Bud Light fiasco

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing legal action against Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, for promoting the beer brand earlier this year TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney.

Bud Light’s March Madness promotion featuring Mulvaney, an actor and transgender activist, has sparked outrage among some conservatives, including singers Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, who have called for a boycott of the popular beer. Continuous sales slump for Bud Light attributed to backlash from both conservatives and the LGBTPQ community due to the marketing campaign.

In an interview Thursday with Fox News, DeSantis said that Anheuser-Busch shares in the Florida pension fund were worth over $50 million. Bud Light’s decision to team up with Mulvaney was followed by a sales slumpand as a result the state’s pension fund suffered collateral damage, according to the 2024 presidential candidate.

“When you start pursuing a political agenda at the expense of your shareholders, it doesn’t just affect the very wealthy, it affects hard-working people who have been firefighters, police officers and teachers,” DeSantis told Fox News.

“And it could be something that leads to a derivative law filed on behalf of Florida pension fund shareholders,” he said.

DeSantis did not say how much the pension fund has lost from its Anheuser-Busch investments. Shareholders file derivative lawsuits on behalf of a company against directors or officers of a corporation who allege a breach of their fiduciary duties.

“radical social ideologies”

The governor on Thursday also sent a letter to the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), which manages its pension fund, asking staff to “review the impact that AB InBev’s conduct has had and continues to have on the value of AB InBev SBA’s holdings.”


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In the letter, DeSantis said AB InBev has struggled recently because the company “decided to associate its Bud Light brand with radical social ideologies.”

“It appears to me that AB InBev may have breached the legal duties owed to its shareholders and that shareholder action may be appropriate and necessary,” DeSantis wrote.

When reached by CBS MoneyWatch for comment, a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch said, Anheuser-Busch InBev takes our responsibility to our shareholders, employees, distributors and customers seriously. We are focused on driving long-term, sustainable growth for them by optimizing our business and providing consumers with products to enjoy on any occasion.”

Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, said CBS mornings last month that the company launched financial assistance to distributors and wholesalers affected by the slump in Bud Light sales since Mulvaney’s social media video went viral. Whitworth also said ABI plans to triple its investment in Bud Light this year as the company launches its upcoming summer campaign and prepares for the NFL season.

Bud Light sales fell 28% for the week ending June 24, compared to the same period last year, according to beverage industry research firm Bump Williams Consulting. That represents a revenue drop of about $26 million for Anheuser-Busch, according to data from consumer behavioral data analytics firm Circana.

AB InBev’s stock price has fallen 14% since Mulvaney’s promotion in late March, and the company has lost $16 billion in market value over time. The Florida pension fund held more than 682,000 shares of AB InBev at the end of March, worth nearly $46 million at the time, CNN reported.


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DeSantis is at the center of the ongoing dispute with the Walt Disney Co. about the amount of authority the entertainment giant has over land near its theme parks in Orlando, Fla.

DeSantis has been on the campaign trail in recent weeks, hoping to establish himself as the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. He visited South Carolina earlier this week and landed in Utah on Friday in pressure to re-energize his campaign, which it has lost momentum.

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