Disney CEO Bob Iger Speaks Out Against Florida Governor’s “Anti-Business” Actions

Disney CEO Bob Iger has spoken out against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ actions against the company, calling them “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”[0] DeSantis had targeted Disney after the company publicly opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which has been derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”[1] In response, DeSantis called lawmakers into special sessions to pass a bill that was intended to give the state oversight over Disney’s properties in Central Florida.[1]

Iger criticized DeSantis’ actions, saying that “any action that thwarts those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business but it sounds anti-Florida.”[2] He added that the company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.[3] Iger also announced the company’s plans to invest $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.[4]

DeSantis had signed legislation in February that would give the state control over Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gave Disney self-governing status and other privileges.[5] As per the latest legislation, the district’s name has been modified to Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and granted DeSantis the authority to nominate five board members.[6] Disney had stood by its actions, saying that all agreements between the company and Reedy Creek board were “appropriate” and “discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida Government in the Sunshine law.”[7]

However, last week DeSantis ordered a state investigation into the outgoing board in charge of Disney’s special taxing district, his latest counterattack in the ongoing battle against the entertainment giant. DeSantis wants to investigate an agreement that transferred the powers of Disney’s now-dissolved special district back to the company before the state assumed control of the board.

For over half a century, Disney had wielded extensive authority over the utilization of land within and in the vicinity of its amusement park.[8] Through a governing entity called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was comprised of board members with strong affiliations to Disney, the company achieved this.[9] Previously, board members for the district responsible for managing Disney World’s government services were elected by landowners.[10] This enabled Disney to govern its resorts and theme parks in Florida independently and efficiently.[10]

While DeSantis claims that Disney attempted to undermine Florida’s duly-enacted legislation, Iger argued that any action against the company’s exercise of free speech is wrong, particularly against a company that means so much to the state.[11] The ongoing feud between Disney and DeSantis is likely to continue to play out in the coming months.[1]

0. “Bob Iger calls DeSantis policies ‘anti-business’ as tensions between Disney and Florida grow” Yahoo Finance, 3 Apr. 2023, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bob-iger-calls-desantis-policies-anti-business-as-tensions-between-disney-and-florida-grow-200201487.html

1. “Battered by Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis stumbles again on Disney” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2023, https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/2023/03/31/florida-governor-ron-desantis-disney-battle-embarrassment-dims-presidential-hopes-setback-trump/70064699007/

2. “Gov. Ron DeSantis orders investigation into Reedy Creek Improvement District agreement with Disney” WESH 2 Orlando, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/desantis-investigation-reedy-creek-disney/43496110

3. “DeSantis wants state investigation into Disney power play” POLITICO, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/03/desantis-wants-state-investigation-into-disney-power-play-00090191

4. “Disney CEO Bob Iger Has Plenty to Say Regarding FL Governor Actions Against the Company” The DIS, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.wdwinfo.com/news-stories/disney-ceo-bob-iger-has-plenty-to-say-regarding-fl-governor-actions-against-the-company/

5. “DESANTIS STRIKES BACK: Florida governor calls for probe into move letting Disney retain self-governing power” Fox Business, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/desantis-strikes-back-florida-governor-calls-probe-move-letting-disney-retain-self-governing-power

6. “Disney CEO Bob Iger calls DeSantis’ actions ‘anti-Florida'” News 13 Orlando, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/attractions/2023/04/03/dianey-ceo-bob-iger-calls-desantis-actions-anti-florida-

7. “As Disney Outmaneuvers DeSantis, Florida Gov. Calls for Investigation Over Special District” Hollywood Reporter, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/as-disney-outmaneuvers-desantis-florida-gov-calls-for-investigation-over-special-district-1235366353/

8. “Bob Iger calls Florida actions against Disney World ‘anti-business'” CNN, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/03/business/disney-florida-fight/index.html

9. “Mickey Mouse outsmarts DeSantis; group demands tougher gun laws” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/opinion/letters/2023/04/03/mickey-mouse-outsmarts-desantis-group-demands-tougher-gun-laws/70065980007

10. “DeSantis asks for probe of Disney-Reedy Creek agreements” Orlando Sentinel, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne-disney-reedy-creek-desantis-investigation-20230403-lfpgq6kzdzajjbopqnost77y2u-story.html

11. “Disney CEO defends actions, calls DeSantis’ retaliation ‘anti-business'” Tampa Bay Times, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2023/04/03/disney-ceo-defends-actions-calls-desantis-retaliation-anti-business/

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