Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed the government to investigate whether Bud Light’s parent company has breached its obligations to shareholders amid continuing backlash from conservatives over the beer brand’s deal with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
DeSantis, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, has directed Lamar Taylor, Interim Executive Director of the State Board of Trustees, to immediately begin an investigation into “how AB InBev’s conduct has and will continue to affect the values of SBA.” AB InBev holdings. ”
In a letter tweeted on Friday, DeSantis said, “AB InBev may have breached its legal obligations to its shareholders and we believe a shareholder lawsuit may be appropriate and necessary.”
“All options are on the table,” he added.
AB InBev shares are down more than 2% this year, but the broader market is up.
Bud Light’s sales plummeted after conservative unrest and boycotts over its partnership with Mulvaney. Last month, the beer lost its top spot in the US beer market due to: constellation brandModelo Especial accounts for 8.7% of overall beer sales, while Bud Light accounts for 7%, according to data shared by consulting firm Bump Williams.
The company also found that sales of Bud Light were down about 25% from last year. Amid the boycott, the company’s stock price fell from $66 to $58 per share. DeSantis said the state of Florida owns a $53 million stake in AB InBev.
“Anheuser-Busch InBev takes its responsibilities to shareholders, employees, distributors and customers seriously,” a company spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Friday afternoon.
“We are focused on optimizing our business and providing consumers with products that they can enjoy for every occasion, thereby facilitating their long-term sustainable growth,” the spokesperson said.
DeSantis suggested that the investigation could result in lawsuits being filed on behalf of the Florida pension fund shareholders. “At the end of the day, there should always be penalties for putting business aside to focus on social issues at the expense of hardworking people,” he said in an interview with Fox News Thursday night.
The governor accused the company of being tied to “extremist social ideologies” and ignoring stakeholders and pensioners.
DeSantis oversees state commissions as a trustee along with the state’s Republican Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.
The move against Bud Light marks the latest example of DeSantis wielding political power by jumping into controversy over high-profile social issues.
The governor is in a bitter feud with disneyhas been one of the state’s top employers for more than a year after the company criticized a controversial Florida bill that would limit classroom discussions about gender identity. Disney has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Mr. DeSantis and his allies of political retaliation arising from the clashes over the classroom bill.
During the campaign, DeSantis, who is seen as the biggest rival to former President Donald Trump’s Republican primary, has continued to attack Disney and other groups he sees as promoting an “awakened” progressive political ideology.
“We must carefully manage the funding of Florida’s hardworking law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and first responders in a way that focuses on increasing profits rather than subsidizing ideological agendas through awakened virtue signals,” he said in a letter to Taylor.
DeSantis trails Trump by double digits in most national polls for the Republican primary. Less than two months into the campaign, the governor’s campaign plans to restart. NBC News reported on Thursday.
Mulvaney criticized Bud Light for not supporting him during the boycott. She said she was harassed and threatened because she was the face of controversy.
“Over the past few months, I’ve been afraid to leave the house, being ridiculed in public, being followed, and feeling lonely and unwelcome,” Mulvaney said. said last month.