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Ron DeSantis orders Florida’s inspector general to see if Disney execs were personally involved with making the loophole to thwart him

Ron DeSantisGov. Ron DeSantis of Florida at a news conference in Miami, Fla., on January 26, 2023.

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

  • Ron DeSantis wants Florida’s inspector general to look into the loophole that a Disney-backed board used to thwart his plan. 
  • The review would probe whether Disney executives, staff, or agents had anything to do with the agreement. 
  • The last-minute agreement hamstrings DeSantis’ board, keeping them from having any real power for decades. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants his top investigator to get to the bottom of how a Disney-backed board hamstrung his plan to take control of the agency governing the land around Walt Disney World in Orlando.

And DeSantis asked the state’s inspector general to specifically look into whether Disney’s executives, staff, or agents were involved in the scheme.

In February, DeSantis replaced the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) — a self-governing agency overseeing Disney’s land — with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) and five new board members to govern the area.

DeSantis has feuded with the megacorporation after it spoke out against his strict education law critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” 

The new board would have had the power to limit Disney’s development around Disney World, but just a day before state lawmakers approved the change, the old Reedy Creek Improvement District board quietly passed an agreement making the new overseers essentially toothless.

The agreement gives Disney the right to build to the maximum density without approval, restricts the new board from using symbols like Mickey Mouse, and — as a kicker — is set to expire “twenty-one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England.”

In a letter dated Monday, DeSantis called on Inspector General Melinda Miguel to look into the agreement, which he said was “designed to usurp the authority of the CFTOD board.”

DeSantis claimed in the letter that the “collusive and self-dealing arrangements aim to nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.” 

He wants the inspector general’s review into RCID’s loophole to look into the region’s “adherence” to Florida civil and criminal laws, as well as the validity of RCID’s former board.

The power play by Disney has amused Florida insiders and lobbyists, who said they bet Disney’s lawyers were giggling waiting for their maneuver to be discovered. 

“It was a pretty brilliant move by the outgoing board to basically take all the power away,” one Florida-based lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Insider. “Everybody that I talked to about it kind of chuckled about it. They thought it was funny.”

Still, the feud between DeSantis and Disney is likely entering a new phase, as the governor declared last week that the fight against the entertainment giant wasn’t over. “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said at a book tour stop in Georgia.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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