• Disney’s Bob Iger escalated the conflict between the company and Florida’s Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.
  • The House of Mouse sued the governor, claiming he tried “weaponize government power” against the company.
  • It’s the latest move in a feud that began last year over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Buckle up for a roller coaster ride, because the feud between Disney’s CEO Bob Iger and Florida’s Ron DeSantis just got bumpier.

The media giant sued the governor on Wednesday, essentially throwing down the gauntlet in a storm that has been brewing in the Sunshine State for the last year.

In the lawsuit, the House of Mouse claims that DeSantis tried to “weaponize government power” over the company when he attempted to make changes to Disney World’s special tax district.

The suit alleges that DeSantis’ actions were retaliation for the company publicly opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, formally known as the Parental Rights in Education Act, which forbids discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in school for all grades.

“We are 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,” Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, said in response to the lawsuit. “This lawsuit is yet another unfortunate example of their hope to undermine the will of the Florida voters and operate outside the bounds of the law.”

DeSantis, who was out of the country when the suit was filed, has not yet commented.

This is the latest — and most drastic — move in the clash between DeSantis and Iger, who inherited the battle with Disney from his predecessor Bob Chapek.

Earlier this month, Iger expressed his frustration with DeSantis' actions in a shareholder meeting, claiming the governor's moves are "anti-Florida," given the $17 billion the company plans to spend in the state over the next decade.

"Any action that thwarts those efforts, simply to retaliate for a position the company took, sounds not just anti-business but it sounds anti-Florida," Iger said, pointing to the jobs, tourism, and tax dollars Disney World brings.

And in Disney's view, there have been plenty of actions.

DeSantis started plotting with Republican lawmakers over a year ago, after Disney's botched response to the Don't Say Gay bill ended with the company saying it would work to repeal the law.

As part of their scheming, Republicans looked to repeal the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which would strip Disney of its self-governing status. But this plan meant a massive taxpayer burden, leading the governor to pivot.

In February, the state passed a bill allowing DeSantis to rename and appoint new board members to Disney's district — but in the game of cat and Mickey Mouse, Iger was one step ahead. The outgoing board members had already signed an agreement that essentially gave Disney full rein over any development plans or alterations.

Ever since, DeSantis has been mulling over his next plan of attack, suggesting erecting a competing theme park or a nearby prison, building toll roads into the park, or increasing regulations over The Most Magical Place on Earth.

"Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless," DeSantis said earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Disney has been pushing buttons, publicizing its first official LGBTQ event at Disneyland — Disney World's California counterpart — and winning goodwill by announcing it would build about 1,400 units of affordable housing near the Florida park.

Then came Iger's bombshell lawsuit — a sort of FastPass to heightening the conflict.

Iger, who is known for big moves, has already been getting support, including from some unlikely characters.

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, tweeted that her home state would "will happily accept your 70,000+ jobs if you want to leave Florida."

"SC's not woke, but we're not sanctimonious about it either," she added.

Donald Trump, who has not yet commented on the lawsuit, has also shown support for Disney.

"DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney. His original P.R. plan fizzled, so now he's going back with a new one in order to save face," Trump posted on Truth Social last week, using a nickname for the governor.

Disney declined to give any additional comment and DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It's too soon to tell who will come out on top, but both men have made it clear they will not go without putting up a fight.

With egos as big as the Magic Castle — and a potential presidential bid forthcoming — don't expect this fight to be over any time soon.

Read the original article on Business Insider