Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is re-upping his call for Disney to drop its lawsuit against him and other state officials in his ongoing fight with the entertainment giant, warning the company it is “going to lose.”
DeSantis was asked during a sit-down with CNBC what he would say to Disney CEO Bob Iger if the governor were to call and discuss what has become a very public feud that began under former Disney chief Bob Chapek.
“I would just say go back to what you did well, I think it’s going to be the right business decision,” DeSantis said. “We’ve basically moved on, they’re suing the state of Florida, they’re going to lose that lawsuit. So what I would say is drop the lawsuit.”
Split of Disney’s Bob Iger (L) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). Disney and DeSantis have been in an ongoing feud that began under former Disney CEO Bob Chapak (not pictured). (Getty / Getty Images)
DeSantis said Disney has had problems apart from its battle with Florida, and said he believes “parents have lost some confidence that this is a company that’s really speaking to what they want, the way it had been traditionally.”
The governor noted that he and his wife were married at Walt Disney World, “so it’s not like we’re opposed,” and said that “we’ve appreciated working with them over the years.”
DeSantis went on to tout his state’s low unemployment rate and business-friendly environment, and suggested Disney could continue to thrive without the self-governing authority it is suing over losing.
“Your competitors all do very well — here at Universal SeaWorld, they have not had the same special privileges as you have,” DeSantis said in his message to Disney. “So all we want to do is treat everybody the same and let’s move forward. I’m totally fine with that. But I’m not fine with giving extraordinary privileges to one special company at the exclusion of everybody else.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on April 21, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate for (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images / Getty Images)
The Walt Disney Co. did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment on DeSantis’ remarks.
The feud between Disney and DeSantis began last year when the company publicly came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, coined the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, which bans classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation in lower grades.
DeSantis responded by pushing the Florida legislature to strip Disney’s self-governing authority and create the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District CFTOD, which now has control over the park’s development.
The previous board that oversaw aspects of Disney World approved a series of agreements that gave the corporate giant a wide range of control. (Getty Images for Disney Dreamers Academy / Fox News)
|THE WALT DISNEY CO.
However, before the new board took control, Disney pushed through changes to the special tax district agreement that limited the board’s action for decades.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc. sued DeSantis, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Meredith Ivey and members of the CFTOD in April over the move, claiming the defendants violated the company’s free speech rights in a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”
DeSantis asked a federal judge to toss the lawsuit in June, saying Disney’s case has no merit and the officials have immunity.