DeSantis urges Bob Iger to drop Disney lawsuit, accept end of ‘special privileges’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said so Monday Disney CEO Bob Iger should drop his company’s lawsuit accusing the Republican governor of political retaliation.
“They’re suing the state of Florida. They’re going to lose that lawsuit,” DeSantis said in an interview on CNBC’s “Last Call,” which is set to air in full at 7 p.m. ET.
When asked what he would say to Egger if he called him today, the governor said, “So what I would say is drop the case.”
“This is a great place to do business,” DeSantis said, citing Florida’s status as the state’s largest economy in CNBC’s latest national poll. The Sunshine State takes 8th place overall in CNBC’s ranking of the Best US States for Business in 2023.
DeSantis said he would tell Iger: “All of your competitors are doing so well here, Universal, SeaWorld. They don’t have the same special franchises as you.”
“So all we want to do is treat everyone the same, and let’s move on. I’m totally fine with that. But I’m not okay with giving extraordinary privileges, you know, to one private company to the exclusion of everyone else,” he said. He said.
DeSantis was referring to Walt Disney World’s special tax district, which has become a key battleground in the governor’s long-running dispute with one of his state’s top employers.
The governor and his allies targeted the district — which has primarily allowed the Orlando-area theme park to run its operations since the 1960s — shortly after Disney condemned a controversial GOP-backed semester bill last year.
Facing pressure from within his company, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek opposed the legislation, which limited classroom discussion of gender and sexual orientation, and was dubbed “Don’t Say Like Me” by critics. After the law was signed in March 2022, Disney pledged to help repeal it.
In February, DeSantis signed a bill that would bring the district under his control by allowing him to choose a five-member board of supervisors. The new board accused Disney of thwarting its authority by crafting long-term development deals. In April, DeSantis’ board voted to void those contracts, prompting Disney to file suit in federal court.
The company alleges that DeSantis “orchestrated at every step” a campaign of government retaliation “as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.”
DeSantis and the other defendants in the lawsuit have called for the case to be dismissed.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Republican presidential nominee, speaks with CNBC’s Brian Sullivan on August 14, 2023.
David A. Grosjean | CNBC
The governor said in an interview on Monday that he and his allies had “basically stayed away” from the feud.
“I would just say, go back to what you did well. I think it would be the right business decision, and all that,” he said.
But DeSantis has frequently invoked his battle with Disney on the campaign trail as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The governor, whose political style is heavily focused on fighting “awakened” social issues, has accused Disney of sexualizing children.
Iger told CNBC last month that the allegations were “unbelievable and inaccurate.”
Once seen as a major threat to Donald Trump in the GOP primary race, DeSantis has struggled to close the polling gap with the former president and cement some major donors’ concerns about the campaign.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.
– CNBC’s Sarah Whitten contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on www.cnbc.com