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DeSantis wants state investigation into Disney power play

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“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 a letter to Melinda Miguel, Florida’s chief inspector general.

The move by Disney blindsided DeSantis and his allies and undercuts a talking point that DeSantis had used frequently during his reelection campaign and in recent stops across the country. The governor has repeatedly talked about how he bested Disney after the company came out publicly against the state’s parental rights in education bill, also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics.

News about Disney’s maneuver has also sparked criticism from allies of former President Donald Trump.

“President Trump wrote ‘Art of the Deal’ and brokered Middle East peace. Ron DeSantis got out-negotiated by Mickey Mouse,” Taylor Budowich, the head of a pro-Trump super PAC, wrote on Twitter.

Florida lawmakers, at the request of DeSantis, earlier this year passed legislation to overhaul leadership of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the entity that has allowed the company the ability to operate its own government-like functions for more than 50 years in central Florida.

That legislation came nearly a year after lawmakers pushed through a measure to dismantle Reedy Creek during a special session. But before the new DeSantis-backed board could assume control of Reedy Creek — or the governor signed the legislation, the outgoing board passed a series of agreements to ensure that Disney keeps power, such as the company having the final say on alterations to the property.

The DeSantis administration contends Disney’s action suffers from “serious legal infirmities” such as inadequate legal notice and ethical violations.

DeSantis wants both the chief inspector general, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to investigate the legal validity of the outgoing board’s moves and any financial gain the company could gain from such a decision.

Republican leaders also have expressed a willingness to pursue legislation to combat the Disney power play, but it’s unclear what that would look like. House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) tweeted Monday that “all legislative options are now back on the table.”

“What’s happened is disingenuous to say the least,” Renner told reporters Friday.

Disney, however, has stood by its actions, saying in a statement last week that all agreements between the company and Reedy Creek board were “appropriate” and “discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida Government in the Sunshine law.” Officials with Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the DeSantis calls for investigation.

In his memoir released earlier this year, DeSantis described how he undertook a stealth operation in 2022 to draw up the initial bill that targeted Disney “We need the element of surprise — nobody can see this coming,” his book quotes him telling then-House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Gary Fineout contributed to this report.



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( With inputs from : www.politico.com )

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