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DeSantis announces inquiry into Bud Light's parent company over partnership with trans influencer

The GOP governor of Florida and 2024 presidential contender said the state is considering legal action against AB InBev.
Ron DeSantis attends the Independence Day parade in Merrimack, N.H.
Ron DeSantis attends the Independence Day parade in Merrimack, N.H., on July 4. Mel Musto / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he is directing his state government to launch an inquiry into Bud Light's parent company, AB InBev, over its partnership with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

DeSantis, who's running for the GOP presidential nomination, accused the beverage company of not following its "fiduciary duty" to shareholders and pensioners by collaborating with Mulvaney.

"When you start pursuing a political agenda at the expense of your shareholders, that’s not just impacting very wealthy people. It impacts hardworking people who were police officers, firefighters and teachers in terms of the pension," DeSantis said in an interview on Fox News.

He continued: "So we’re going to be launching an inquiry about Bud Light and InBev, and it could be something that leads to a derivative lawsuit filed on behalf of the shareholders of the Florida pension fund because at the end of the day, there’s got to be penalties when you put business aside to focus on your social agenda at the expense of hardworking people."

DeSantis said Florida had $53 million worth of InBev stock in Florida's pension funds of about $180 billion. The governor claimed that shareholders were affected after sales of Bud Light declined as a result of conservative backlash to the beer brand after it worked with Mulvaney.

Asked for a response, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told NBC News: "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 products to enjoy for any occasion."

DeSantis' office pointed to a letter he posted on Twitter on Friday morning that he sent to the interim executive director of the State Board of Administration calling for an inquiry.

"It appears to me that AB InBev may have breached legal duties owed to its shareholders, and that a shareholder action may be both appropriate and necessary," DeSantis wrote. "To protect SBA and the retirees of Florida from losses attributable to AB InBev’s disregard of those duties, all options are on the table."

After Mulvaney partnered with Bud Light on a marketing campaign in April, right-wing commentators and conservatives called for a boycott and DeSantis said at the time that he would never drink the beer again.

Sales of the beverage plummeted after the campaign. NBC News reported in May that according to data cited by the beverage industry trade publication Beer Business Daily, sales volumes of Bud Light for the week ending May 13 sank 28.4%, extending a downward trend from the 27.7% decline the week before.