Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger spoke out Wednesday afternoon claiming that Florida politicians are retaliating against the company.
Disney has accused Gov. Ron DeSantis and his supporters of “weaponizing” the state government to punish it for exercising free-speech rights when the company criticized a state measure last year banning classroom discussion of sexuality and gender identity with younger children.
While discussing the company’s latest financial results, Iger brought up the dispute.
He took issue with concerted efforts to dismantle the special district that he said enabled Disney’s growth, and put it in the hands of state-appointed overseers.
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Iger said Disney has been forced to file a lawsuit in federal court to protect its business interests.
DeSantis has repeatedly attacked “woke Disney” in public remarks and said he is leveling the playing field for a company that has enjoyed unfair advantages.
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“There are about 2,000 special districts in Florida, and most were established to foster investment and development where we were one of them,” Iger said. “It basically made it easier for us and others, by the way, to do business in Florida. And we built a business that employs, as we’ve said before, over 75,000 people and attracts tens of millions of people to the state.”
Iger brought up the point that other special districts have been established in the state, including the Daytona Speedway and the Villages retirement community.
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“There’s also a false narrative that we’ve been fighting to protect tax breaks as part of this. But in fact, we’re the largest taxpayer in central Florida, paying over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes last year alone. And we pay more taxes, specifically, more real estate taxes, as a result of that special district,” Iger added.
Disney plans to invest $17 billion over the next decade expanding Walt Disney World.
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Iger asked, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?”
FOX Business has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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