Disney CEO Bob Iger praised the House of Mouse’s contributions to the state of Florida as he slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his “false narrative” amid his ongoing feud with Disney.
Iger spoke publicly Wednesday about the state’s treatment of the company for opposing the DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay” law. Deadline reported.
“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more and pay more taxes or not?” Iger asked during Disney’s second-quarter earnings conference call.
“There is… a false narrative that we have fought to protect tax breaks as part of it. But in fact, we are the largest taxpayer in Central Florida, paying over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes last year alone.”
Iger has spoken out against DeSantis for the past few weeks, telling a shareholder meeting last month that the governor’s moves were “anti-business … but also anti-Florida.”
Several actions by DeSantis followed, including his takeover of the Disney Special District and the proposal to build a prison near the theme park.
Disney sued DeSantis in late April, alleging that the governor’s conduct toward the company was “manifestly vengeful, manifestly anti-business, and manifestly unconstitutional.”
Elsewhere in his call, the Disney boss “clarified the facts” regarding special districts and their purpose in the state.
“There are about 2,000 special districts in Florida, and most were created to encourage investment in development. It’s basically made it easier for us and others to do business in Florida,” he explained.
“And we’ve built a business that, as we said, employs over 75,000 people and attracts tens of millions of people to the state. So while it’s easy to say that the Reedy Creek Special District, established for us over 50 years ago, has benefited us, it’s misleading not to consider how much Disney has helped the state of Florida.”
He also commented on the cause of DeSantis’ Disney complaints.
“The only thing at stake here is retaliation against us for taking a stand on the forthcoming legislation,” Iger said.
“And we believe that with this position we are merely exercising our right to free speech.”