DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board Nullifies Disney’s 11th Hour Deal; Disney Files Lawsuit
UNITED STATES - APRIL 14: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a convocation at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday, April 14, 2023.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ new Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board voted to nullify on Wednesday the last-minute deals that the previous Disney-appointed board made with Disney to cede its power to the company before the new board took over.

Disney responded soon after by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida claiming that they were the victims of a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

Disney claims in its lawsuit that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board’s actions “now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region and violates its constitutional rights.”

DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske responded to Disney’s lawsuit in a statement, saying, “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.”

“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,” she added.

The former board signed an agreement to transfer its power to the company on February 8 and the agreement was recorded with the Orange County Comptroller on February 9 — the same day that the Florida House passed legislation that renamed the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and removed Disney’s self-appointed board and replaced it with a board appointed by the governor.

“They [Disney] are not superior to the laws that are enacted by the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a press conference last week. “They thought they could create a development agreement that would render everything we did null and void. That’s not going to work, that’s not going to fly.”

The governor said that he has met with leaders in the Republican-controlled House and Senate to make sure that the legislation revokes the agreement and that “the people’s will is established and is upheld.”

DeSantis said that the people of Florida made clear through the state’s recent elections that they did not want to have “one corporation serving as its own government” while everyone else had to play by a different set of rules.

DeSantis later said that the “whatever rationale there was 60 years ago to” give Disney special privileges to govern itself, “clearly, now, we’re in a much different era as a state, we’ve got a lot of competitors that are treated differently, a lot of businesses and individuals treated differently.

“We don’t want to do that,” the 44-year-old governor added. “We want to make sure that Disney lives under the same laws as everybody else.”

This story has been updated to include additional information. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board Nullifies Disney’s 11th Hour Deal; Disney Files Lawsuit