Disney CEO Bob Iger Slams DeSantis For ‘Anti-Florida’ Actions Against The Company

(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney)

James Lynch Contributor
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Disney CEO Bob Iger criticized Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for “anti-Florida” actions against the company at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting on Monday.

Iger was asked about DeSantis’ ongoing dispute with Disney during its annual shareholder meeting. “But a year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation, and while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do,” he said. (RELATED: DeSantis Signs Florida Constitutional Carry Into Law)

“The governor got very angry about the position Disney took, and it seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business,” Iger continued. “In effect, it seeks to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”

“While a company has First Amendment rights, it does not have the right to run its own government and operate outside the bounds of Florida law,” DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske told the Daily Caller. “The Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis worked to put Disney on an even playing field, and Disney got caught attempting to undermine Florida’s duly-enacted legislation in the 11th hour.”

Iger touted the company’s 75,000 employees and its status as the state’s largest taxpayer, as it plans to invest over $17 billion in Disney World over the next decade. “Our point on this is any action that thwarts those efforts simply to retaliate on a position the company took sounds not just anti-business but it sounds anti-Florida.”

DeSantis’ battle with Disney began when the company publicly opposed his legislation restricting the teaching of gender ideology and sexuality from kindergarten through third grade. The feud prompted DeSantis to passing legislation in February 2023 to abolish the Reedy Creek improvement district, which had given Disney self-governing status and special regulatory exemptions.

The company reportedly signed legal agreements with the Reedy Creek improvement district to preserve its special benefits when DeSantis’ legislation was making its way through Florida’s state legislature, according to WKMG. DeSantis responded Monday by calling for an investigation into the legality of the agreements.

“These collusive and self-dealing arrangements aim to nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process and defy the will of Floridians,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to the Florida Inspector General. “Any legal or ethical violations should be referred to the proper authorities.”