Disney CEO Iger hammers DeSantis’ ‘retaliation’ in Florida

A view of the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 8, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

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The Walt Disney Firm is not the one enterprise in Florida that operates inside a particular district, CEO Bob Iger reminded buyers Wednesday.

He famous that the Daytona Speedway and the retirement neighborhood The Villages reside inside two of almost 2,000 particular districts within the state and haven’t been beneath the identical scrutiny Disney has skilled within the final yr.

“The case that we filed final month made our place and the information very clear,” he mentioned throughout an earnings name. “And that is actually that that is about one factor and one factor solely and that is retaliating in opposition to us for taking a place about pending laws.”

The battle started final yr, when Disney got here out in opposition to a Florida invoice limiting classroom dialogue of sexual orientation or gender identification, which critics dubbed “Do not Say Homosexual.”

DeSantis’ workplace did not instantly reply to a request for touch upon Iger’s remarks. DeSantis is anticipated to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, though he’s a distant second in main polls to former President Donald Trump, a fellow Florida resident.

Earlier this week, Disney expanded its federal lawsuit in opposition to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing the Republican chief of doubling down on his “retribution marketing campaign” in opposition to the corporate by signing laws to void Disney’s improvement offers in Orlando.

Disney’s amended lawsuit additionally famous that Florida’s Republican-led Legislature handed laws final week concentrating on Walt Disney World’s monorail system.

Iger addressed the “false narrative” that Disney is battling DeSantis to guard tax breaks within the district. He mentioned the corporate is the most important taxpayer in central Florida, having paid greater than $1.1 billion in state and native taxes final yr.

“And everyone knows there was no concerted effort to do something to dismantle what was as soon as known as Reedy Creek particular district till we spoke out on the laws,” he mentioned. “So that is plainly a matter of retaliation whereas the remainder of the Florida particular districts proceed working mainly as they had been.”

Iger mentioned that if the state’s purpose is to “stage the taking part in subject,” then the oversight must be utilized to all particular districts.

“And I feel it is also vital for us to say our main purpose has at all times been to have the ability to proceed to do precisely what we have been doing there, which is investing in Florida,” he added. “We by no means needed, and we definitely by no means anticipated, to be within the place of getting to defend our enterprise pursuits in federal court docket, notably having such a terrific relationship with the state as we have had for greater than 50 years.”

Iger mentioned Disney nonetheless plans to spend greater than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the following decade, which might create round 13,000 jobs on the firm and generate much more taxes for Florida. The corporate presently employs greater than 75,000 folks within the space.

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