DeSantis-Appointed Board Member at Disney World Resigns Suddenly

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Only three months after Florida’s governor stripped power away from the board members of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, one of the five newly-appointed board members has resigned.

On Friday evening, one of the five board members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, formerly Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, resigned from his post. Michael Sasso, an attorney with a practice that focuses on “high-stakes litigation” in both the state and federal courts in Florida appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to serve as one of the first five members of the brand-new board, announced his resignation, according to Spectrum News13.

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In February 2023, during a legislative session in Tallahassee, Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 9B into law, establishing a new state-appointed board to oversee the self-governing goings-on at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida. The installation of the new board was another punctuation mark on the timeline of back-and-forth attacks between the State of Florida and The Walt Disney Company–a timeline set into motion in March 2022, when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement on behalf of Disney, opposing the decision on the part of Gov. DeSantis and the Florida legislature to entertain House Bill 1557, the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, shortly before the governor signed the bill into law.

After the bill passed, Chapek immediately released another statement on behalf of The Walt Disney Company, condemning the lawmakers’ actions and vowing to stand in solidarity with those who sought to have the law repealed. But Gov. DeSantis and Florida lawmakers quickly responded with another bill–one aimed at taking away Disney’s self-governing status, a status granted to Disney when the Reedy Creek Improvement Act was signed into law in the 1960s. Governor DeSantis signed the bill, Senate Bill 4C, into law in April 2022, and the dissolution of Reedy Creek was set for June 1 of this year. 

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The February 2023 special session took place after months of the continued rift between Disney and DeSantis. The feud continues to grow, and some say that the current state of affairs between the two entities is more akin to an all-out war rather than a battle.

House Bill 9B granted DeSantis the sole authority to appoint members to Disney’s brand-new board, and it further changed the name of the district to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Among the governor’s appointees were Bridget Ziegler, Brian Aungst, Jr., Mike Sasso, Martin Garcia, and Ron Peri. 

Sasso, however, resigned from his appointment on Friday evening. Spectrum News reports that Sasso’s wife, Michelle Sasso, was just appointed to the Florida State Supreme Court earlier this week by Governor Ron DeSantis. The appointment is said to be the reason behind Mr. Sasso’s resignation.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!