Disney did not come to play in the ongoing battle with Governor Ron DeSantis. The House of Mouse and DeSantis have been going toe to toe since last year when Disney publicly opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by critics).
To retaliate for their opposition, Ron DeSantis vowed that Disney would regret getting involved. He set to work to find a way to punish them and decided to dissolve their improvement district, Reedy Creek, and replace it with a board of his own choosing. The district essentially allowed Disney to operate their own government, which streamlined issues like zoning, building and construction permits, fire services, and infrastructure maintenance.
DeSantis sought to bring all that under Florida state control, but Disney had a trick up their sleeve. Just before Reedy Creek was set to become the new plaything of DeSantis, they struck an agreement with Disney that would circumvent the Improvement District almost entirely. The deal essentially made The Walt Disney Company judge and jury for all of Reedy Creek’s future decisions rendering the District powerless to do anything but maintain roads. People called it “a master class in dealing with bullies.”
Needless to say, Governor DeSantis did not like that one bit! He vowed to exact revenge, saying that Disney hadn’t seen anything yet, hinting that further retaliation would be coming. He even called himself “the new sheriff in town.” His plan? A criminal investigation into the backroom dealings that circumvented his power over Reedy Creek.
It looks like Disney has outsmarted the Governor once again, though. Yesterday afternoon the Orlando Sentinel reported that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody had issued a records request regarding the deal brokered between Reedy Creek and Disney. The purpose was to examine them to determine if any criminal actions had taken place. The request specifically was seeking “documents discussing an intention or goal of circumventing, avoiding, frustrating, mitigating or otherwise attempting to avoid the effects of anticipated actions by the Florida governor and the Florida Legislature.” The records request also specified that “copies of emails, text messages, and other correspondence from board members, district employees, and other affiliates related to the deals.” should be turned over to the Attorney General’s office.
The records probe came up empty-handed, however. AG Moody was informed that “no records exist.” This means Disney was smart enough not to leave a paper trail, and for now, at least, it looks like they have outsmarted DeSantis once again.