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DeSantis says he's 'basically moved on' from Disney feud and wants Bob Iger to drop lawsuit

Speaking with CNBC in an interview that airer last night, Monday, August 14, Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis said that he and his allies have 'basically moved on' from the fight with Disney.

DeSantis says he's 'basically moved on' from Disney feud and wants Bob Iger to drop lawsuit

It appears that Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis has more important things on his mind right now than his epic battle against Disney down here in Orlando.

We presume his faltering presidential campaign is taking up all of his attention, and perhaps he is regreting starting a fight with one of the most beloved corporate companies in the world, although he is clearly trying to gain the upper hand in the battle between state and corporate kingdom.

In an interview that aired last night on CNBC, DeSantis spoke to Last Call, where he claimed that both he and his allies have 'basically moved on' from the fight with Disney, and urged Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger to drop the lawsuit against his administration claiming that he engaged in political retaliation in the war that was sparked when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against his education policies.

When asked what he would tell Iger if he were to give him a call today, DeSantis responded “So what I would say is, drop the lawsuit." He also said that "They're going to lose that lawsuit."

“This is a great place to do business,” DeSantis said, citing Florida’s status as the top state economy in CNBC’s latest national survey. The Sunshine State scored eighth overall in CNBC’s ranking of America’s Top States for Business in 2023.

“Your competitors all do very well here, Universal, SeaWorld. They have not had the same special privileges as you have,” DeSantis said he’d tell Iger.

“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, you know, to one special company at the exclusion of everybody else,” he said.

DeSantis Disney Feud

Background to the DeSantis v Disney Feud...

Once upon a time, the fairytale down here in the heat of Florida has not been going well, in fact its all turned into a bit of a nightmare, a tit-for-tat saga that been brewing for several months between Florida's governor, and presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis and Disney and its CEO Bob Iger.

The battle between the state and Mickey Mouse is never out of the news, so how did we get to this point?

Down here in the swamp of Florida, ever since the 60s when Walt Disney and the then Florida Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr., struck a deal to bring Disney to Florida, life has been a fairytale.

In May, 1967, the governor agreed to Disneys demands that the Reedy Creek Improvement District should be created. Reedy Creek covers over 10,000 hectares of land surrounding Walt Disney World.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District was a special district created by state law that allowed Disney governmental control over the land in and around the parks.

For more than half a century the district has enabled Disney to function like a county government, providing services such as firefighting, power, water and roads within Orange and Osceola counties. In turn Disney can issue bonds with tax advantages to pay for improvements.

With this legislation in place, both Disney and the state of Florida have lived side by side, happily ever after, with both Walt Disney World and the state continually growing, with Disney the main catalyst for growth and expansion in Florida, heck if Disney had never came to Florida, it might still be mainly swamp land and retirement communities!

So what started the epic battle of state v corporate kingdom?

It all stems from Ron DeSantis and what appears to be a non-stop series of discriminatory actions against the LGBTQIA+ community in Florida .

In 2021, he signed in a Florida law that banned transgender girls and women from participating in middle, high school and college women's competitions. Then in 2022, he kicked it up a notch with his support of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act – commonly known as the "Don't Say Gay" law.

The law came into practice in March 2022 and prohibited discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in school classes from kindergarten to year three.

It was widely criticised outside of Florida for being biased towards the LGBTQIA+ community with the White House officially calling it, "hateful legislation targeting vulnerable students". Since then it has been extended to include grades four to 12.

A day after the bill passed, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek condemned the legislation in a leaked memo to Disney leadership. Mr Chapek then went public with Disney's opposition to the bill and apologised for not speaking out sooner.

Mr DeSantis wasn't very happy with Disney for speaking up against him and he immediately retaliated by targeting Reedy Creek as a way to punish the House of Mouse.

In April 2022, Mr DeSantis signed a bill that stripped Disney of its 55-year-old self-governing status. But rather than dissolving Reedy Creek, Mr DeSantis instead seized it on behalf of Florida and appointed a board to control the district.

Mr DeSantis appointed five self picked board members to the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, saying that the group would not only supervise municipal services but act as a moral arbiter for a company that has "lost it's way".

Mr DeSantis said the move would see Disney pay more taxes, but legal experts are at a loss with how Florida will take over the district without also assuming its $US1 billion ($1.5 billion) in debt.

The board officially gained control on February 27...but only in writing.

In a move that one-upped Mr DeStantis's supposed checkmate, the former Reedy Creek Development board signed its power back to Disney before handing the reigns over to Mr DeStantis's board.

And the binding declaration doesn't expire "until twenty one years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III", allowing Disney to have final say on any property alterations and requires the board to inform Disney of any planned alterations.

The move rendered Mr DeSantis's board functionally useless beyond maintaining roads and basic infrastructure. And no one – not Mr DeSantis or anyone on the new board – seemed to notice until 19 days after it had been actioned!

Not content with pulling the rug from under Mr DeSantis's board, Disney then proceeded to slap a lawsuit on the Florida governor.

Disney sued Mr DeSantis over his takeover of its theme park district, alleging the governor waged a "targeted campaign of government retaliation".

They filed the lawsuit minutes after Disney's Reedy Creek powers were assured.

The Disney lawsuit asks a federal judge to void the governor's takeover of the theme park district, as well as the Mr DeSantis's oversight board's actions, on the grounds that they were violations of company's free speech rights.

In response to the lawsuit a Mr DeSantis spokesperson said that they were "unaware of any legal right that a company has to operate its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in the state".

Mr DeSantis then publicly vowed retribution against Disney for the lawsuit, going as far to suggest he will build a prison next to Disney World.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has also said that any actions against the company that threaten jobs or expansion at its Florida resort was not only "anti-business" but "anti-Florida".

Mr DeSantis' governing board then counter-sued Disney.

The DeSantis board's lawsuit claims the agreements with Disney "reek of a backroom deal".

They claim the previous board members failed to give proper notice about the agreements, lacked the authority to make them, unlawfully delegated governmental authority to a private entity and the agreements are unenforceable under Florida law, according to the suit.

And there we have it, a brief storyboard to what might become a blockbuster movie one day...

DeSantis Disney Feud

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