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DeSantis appointees seek Disney communications about governor, laws in fight over district

by Gabriel Martinez
4 comments
DeSantis Disney Conflict

Appointees of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are requesting records of Disney’s communications with the media and documents regarding the company’s stance on the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. This is part of an ongoing legal dispute concerning the governance of the district that oversees Walt Disney World.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, recently renamed and now under the control of DeSantis’ appointees, initiated legal action against Disney for control of this private governing body. This entity, responsible for overseeing construction, design, and providing services like mosquito control and road maintenance in the theme park, demanded all Disney communications pertaining to Governor DeSantis and any discourse related to legislations passed by Florida’s Republican-led Legislature. These laws altered the district’s control from Disney affiliates to the governor’s appointees and invalidated previous agreements made by Disney with the district prior to the state’s intervention.

Previously known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, this entity was under Disney’s influence for over 50 years until DeSantis’ appointees assumed control this year. The change followed Disney’s public disapproval of a Florida law that prohibits classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in primary education. This law, often referred to as “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, is a key policy supported by DeSantis, who is also a potential candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Before the shift in control, Disney-friendly board members had signed deals transferring oversight of design and construction at Disney World to the company. The new DeSantis-aligned appointees have labeled these last-minute agreements as undermining their authority and have subsequently sued Disney to annul these contracts.

In response, Disney has counter-sued, seeking court validation of these agreements as legitimate and enforceable.

The district’s lawyers also announced plans to take depositions from Disney’s legal team, planners, and lobbyists. They aim to investigate the appointment process of the former district board’s supervisors and scrutinize land deals involving them.

Furthermore, Disney is engaged in a separate federal legal battle with DeSantis and his allies, alleging that the governor infringed upon its right to free speech by retaliating against its objection to the law. DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District have requested a federal judge to dismiss Disney’s First Amendment claim as baseless. A hearing on this matter is scheduled for the coming month in Tallahassee.

For more updates, follow Mike Schneider, available on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about DeSantis Disney Conflict

What is the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s request in the legal dispute with Disney?

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, controlled by Governor Ron DeSantis’ appointees, is requesting all communications of Disney related to the governor and legislations affecting the district. This is part of a broader legal battle for control over the district governing Walt Disney World.

How has the control of the district governing Walt Disney World changed recently?

Control of the district, previously known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, shifted from Disney allies to Governor DeSantis’ appointees. This change followed Disney’s public opposition to Florida’s law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.

What are the main issues in the legal dispute between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District?

The dispute centers on the control and governance of the district that oversees Walt Disney World. Key issues include the validity of last-minute agreements signed by Disney allies before the change in district control and the impact of Florida laws passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

What is Disney’s stance in the federal court case against Governor DeSantis?

In a separate federal court case, Disney is suing Governor DeSantis, claiming he violated its free speech rights by retaliating against the company for its opposition to the state law banning classroom discussions on certain topics. Disney seeks to have its First Amendment rights upheld against what it views as punitive actions by the governor.

More about DeSantis Disney Conflict

  • Florida Governor’s Legal Battle with Disney
  • Control of Walt Disney World’s Governing District
  • DeSantis vs. Disney: The Ongoing Dispute
  • Disney’s First Amendment Lawsuit Against Governor DeSantis

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4 comments

Johnathan K November 18, 2023 - 3:25 am

gotta say, the whole situation seems a bit messy. Wonder how this will play out in the courts, especially with the First Amendment lawsuit in the mix.

Reply
Karen P November 18, 2023 - 5:16 am

its interesting to see how politics is now clashing with big corporations like Disney. Shows how complex things can get when laws collide with corporate interests.

Reply
Eliza T November 18, 2023 - 12:22 pm

I’m curious about the impact on the local community and the employees at Disney World. Seems like they’re caught in the middle of a major political and legal storm.

Reply
Marty J November 18, 2023 - 3:09 pm

Wow, this thing with DeSantis and Disney is really heating up, isn’t it? Never thought I’d see a day where Disney’s in a legal tussle with a state governor.

Reply

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