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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.

Octavio Jones | Getty Photographs Information | Getty Photographs

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

He famous that the Daytona Speedway and the retirement group The Villages reside inside two of almost 2,000 particular districts within the state and haven’t been underneath 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 stated throughout an earnings name. “And that is actually that that is about one factor and one factor solely and that is retaliating towards us for taking a place about pending laws.”

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

DeSantis’ workplace referred CNBC to earlier feedback made by the governor.

“You possibly can’t have a scenario the place the legislature has spoken and one firm simply decides to contract out towards the need of the folks,” the governor stated throughout an interview with Newsmax on Friday. “On the finish of the day, they simply have to grasp the social gathering is over for them.”

DeSantis is predicted 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 towards Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing the Republican chief of doubling down on his “retribution marketing campaign” towards the corporate by signing laws to void Disney’s growth 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 stated 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 referred to as Reedy Creek particular district till we spoke out on the laws,” he stated. “So that is plainly a matter of retaliation whereas the remainder of the Florida particular districts proceed working principally as they had been.”

Iger stated that if the state’s objective is to “stage the enjoying subject,” then the oversight must be utilized to all particular districts.

“And I believe it is also essential for us to say our main objective has all the time 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 wished, 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 stated 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 at the moment employs greater than 75,000 folks within the space.