DeSantis Calls For Probe Into Disney World Special District

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked Florida’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, to investigate the Walt Disney Company’s alleged efforts to limit state oversight of development at Disney World Monday.

DeSantis initially moved to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and end the company’s self-governing privileges which allowed it to control its own civil functions, including development, as a county government would, but changed course to avoid tax consequences for surrounding districts. DeSantis ultimately replaced the board governing Reedy Creek with a governor-controlled one, but Disney passed a new development agreement in February that heavily limited the incoming board’s power and gave the company considerable power over future construction. (RELATED: ‘They’re Not Gatekeepers Anymore’: Meet The DeSantis Spokeswoman Who’s Putting The Media On Defense)

DeSantis claimed the board acted improperly, and the new agreements are invalid.

“The agreements the prior RCID board attempted to shove through at the 11th hour are likely invalid, and all legislative options are back on the table,” a DeSantis spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

DeSantis accused the board of improper delegation of authority, conflicts of interest and self-dealing in violation of the law in his Monday letter. He asked Miguel to investigate Disney’s compliance with civil and criminal laws, the legality of the prior board’s actions and any possible financial gains stemming from them, and all communications from the board related to its February actions.

“These collusive and self-dealing arrangements aim to nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process and defy the will of Floridians,” DeSantis wrote in the letter. “Any legal or ethical violations should be referred to the proper authorities.”

DeSantis’ feud with Disney began in early 2022 when the company came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, legislation that barred classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade. Disney eventually pulled back from public advocacy on political issues in Florida.

Disney did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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