Message received: Florida legislators “mulling” restoral of Disney tax district after Iger hits reverse

Source: Hot Air

Chalk up Bob Iger’s first public mission as Disney’s CEO a success. And that doesn’t refer to the share price or admission fees.

After pushing out his hand-picked successor in a two-year fight, Iger immediately started pushing a message of political conciliation. He used a town hall meeting with employees as a vehicle, but he clearly aimed at parents and Florida legislators — two groups that Disney had alienated in the Bob Chapek era.

It didn’t take long to get a positive reaction from outside the House of Mouse, either:

Florida lawmakers are mulling plans to reverse a move that would strip Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N) of its right to operate a private government around its famous theme-parks, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the plan.

In April, lawmakers had given their final approval to a bill ending Walt Disney’s designation as a self-governing entity, in an apparent response to its opposition to a state law limiting the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.

The new law would also mean that Disney would have to pay more taxes, state governor Ron DeSantis had said in April when he signed the bill.

The state lawmakers are working on a compromise that would allow Disney to keep the arrangement largely in place with a few modifications, the FT reported.

The FT report is behind a firm paywall, but both Reuters above and Fox Business have picked up on it this morning.

As our VIP columnist Tom Jackson in Florida reminded us before Thanksgiving, the law dismantling the Reedy Creek District doesn’t come into effect until July of next year. The legislature has plenty of options, including a straight repeal or a series of ways to tweak the statute to allow Disney to retain most of the benefits. That clearly occurred to Iger too, using the leadership change to signal a truce in the culture wars.

Of course, that overlooks the role Iger played in stoking Disney’s political war in Florida in the first place. Chapek himself was inclined to stay out of the fight over the Parental Rights in Education Act at first, and only got pushed into it by activist employees. Iger’s public-if-barely-implicit criticism of Chapek for staying quiet on issues of “right and wrong” contributed to that push even more:

Bob Chapek, Iger’s successor, initially opted not to speak out against the controversial law. But corporate executives should voice their opinions about ethical dilemmas, Iger recently told CNN+ host Chris Wallace.

“A lot of these issues are not necessarily political,” Iger told CNN+ host Chris Wallace. “It’s about right and wrong. So, I happen to feel and I tweeted an opinion about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. To me, it wasn’t about politics. It is about what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”

Speaking Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” Wallace noted that his interview with Iger was conducted a few weeks ago. The law, officially called “Parental Rights in Education” bill, was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday and it will take effect in July.

“When you’re dealing with right and wrong or when you’re dealing with something that does have profound impact on your business, I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it,” Iger told Wallace.

That was before Disney discovered that parents actually supported the bill, and not just in Florida but across the country. It was before their uberwoke children’s movie Strange World turned into a box-office disaster, too. And it was before their war on Ron DeSantis propelled him to a massive landslide last month, winning all but five counties in the state of Florida and crushing former governor Charlie Crist by nineteen points, while strengthening Republicans and conservatives in both the state legislature and local school boards throughout the state.

Let’s make sure this point gets underscored: Chapek was actually the smart executive in this situation. Iger was the one who miscalculated while using the activists to undermine Chapek to eventually get his old job back. Iger should get some credit for drawing the correct conclusions from the outcome, but Iger is the one who misread the situation and forced Chapek into a bad bet.

That’s something that Florida legislators should consider when reconsidering the Reedy Creek repeal. Iger appears to regret losing more than he regrets his foray into political activism. On the other hand, now that he’s in harness at Disney again for the next two years and unable to pursue his reported presidential ambitions, maybe Iger’s thirst for political jousting has disappeared.