When it comes to business in Anaheim, California, no one is bigger than Disney. The Disneyland Resort employs thousands of employees and brings millions of dollars into the city every year. For a long time, Disney pretty much got everything they wanted from the local government, including a $1 per year lease on one of its parking garages. Disney pays $1 per year to the city of Anaheim for use of the Mickey and Friends garage and gets to keep the rest of the money — and it currently charges $30 per vehicle, $40 if you want preferred parking.
Over the past few years, Disney and the city of Anaheim haven’t always been on the best terms, but Disney still seems to come out on top. According to an FBI affidavit that was recently made public, that is most likely because a Disneyland executive was part of a “cabal” that was pulling some of Anaheim’s major political strings. Disney was never officially named in the affidavit, it was just referred to as “Company A”. However, a person close to the investigation revealed that Disneyland Resort was, in fact, “Company A”. It is very important to note that the FBI affidavit has NOT accused Disney or the executive of any wrongdoing.
Carrie Nocella is Disneyland Resort Director of External Affairs, and a deep dive into the affidavit conducted by The Los Angeles Times shows just how involved she and others were in making sure political decisions made by the city favored “Company A.” Per The Times:
Company A came to light in a 99-page affidavit by FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins in support of a criminal complaint accusing Todd Ament, the former head of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, of lying to a mortgage lender.
The agent wrote that Ament and an unnamed political consultant “were the ring leaders of a small group of individuals who met in person to discuss strategy surrounding several matters within Anaheim — matters that were often pending, or soon to be pending, before the Anaheim City Council,” Adkins wrote.
The affidavit described Company A Employee — Nocella — as one of the group’s ringleaders “to some extent.”
In advance of a secretive gathering of Anaheim business leaders, consultants and politicians in December 2020, Adkins alleged Company A Employee provided input to Ament and the political consultant about who to invite.
Details about the consultant in the affidavit match Jeff Flint, chief executive and senior partner at FSB Public Affairs, who has represented Disneyland Resort. Flint, who announced last week that he was taking a leave of absence as CEO, denied doing anything wrong.
According to the affidavit, Nocella helped a political consultant for the city draft a meeting agenda script about issuing bonds to companies to help with shortfalls because of the pandemic. Just before a meeting where the script was supposed to be read, Nocella reached out to the political consultant and asked that any mention of Disney’s parking lot be removed.
Then-Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu — who has since resigned due to a corruption probe involving Angels Stadium — spoke extensively about the agenda. Sidhu praised Disney and said that he believed they would continue to invest in the city of Anaheim for years to come. The affidavit states that Nocella was unimpressed and texted the political consultant about how poorly the script was read.
It is again important to note that Disney has not been accused of doing anything wrong. Nocella’s deep involvement in Anaheim politics only came to light because of the corruption probe against Sidhu. When asked about the affidavit by The Times, Disney made the following statement:
“We have seen media reports of the complaint and no authorities have reached out to us about it.”
Since the affidavit was made public, Nocella has deleted her social media accounts. She did not give a comment to The Times for the article.