December 3, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies are stepping up the fight walt disney companyeven as more likely rivals for the Republican presidential nomination criticized his long-running battle with the entertainment giant.

DeSantis has repeatedly slammed Disney’s recent move this week to thwart the governor’s bid to seize control of some of the company’s Orlando parks and properties.

“We’re going to make sure that somehow they stay in the pen,” DeSantis said Wednesday of Disney at an event in South Carolina, an early presidential primary state.

The governor, who has yet to announce his plans for the presidency, but is considered former President Donald Trump’s biggest rival for the 2024 Republican nomination is promoting his new book, which mocks Disney as “a wake-up call for corporatism.” Magic Kingdom”.

Meanwhile, his handpicked board of supervisors overseeing a special tax zone at Disney World has increased the pressure on Disney. Officials moved Wednesday to regain authority over properties they say Disney wrongfully took before they took over.

The board’s move comes two days after DeSantis outlined a series of possible actions against Disney World, including develop nearby land.

“People say maybe create a state park, try to do more amusement parks. Some say another state prison. Who knows?” DeSantis said.

It’s the latest chapter in a grim story that began more than a year ago after Disney opposed a controversial Florida law passed by Republicans restricting classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. Disney said in a March 2022 statement that the legislation, which critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” “should never have been signed by DeSantis.” statement.

Disney’s stance sparked a bitter row. The state’s Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature have targeted the special tax district that has allowed Disney to largely govern itself for decades.

DeSantis’ willingness to use his political power to engage in lively cultural battles has made him a rising star in the Republican Party.But he apparently looked forward to the transition to the national stage announced by the president, triggering criticize Even from some of his fellow Republicans.

Trump, a former ally of DeSantis who now regularly bashes the governor, wrote Tuesday that the governor is being “totally destroyed by Disney.”

Republican former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brought up the Disney dispute this week when he questioned DeSantis’ political skills. “That’s not the guy I want to sit across from” Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin” and try to fix what’s going on in Ukraine, if you can’t see around the corner (Disney CEO) Bob Iger created for you, “ Christy explain In an interview with Semafor.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday on CNN that the fight “complicates the entire Republican message,” Politico said. Report.

Those Republicans are either running for president or considered likely candidates, making them potential rivals to DeSantis.But some polls of upcoming Republican primaries also show DeSantis is losing to Trump, a trend New York Times famous last month.

Asked to comment on the Florida board’s latest move and recent Republican criticism, DeSantis press secretary Brian Griffin referred to Tuesday’s accusing Disney of enacting a “Legally Flawed, 11th Hour Agreement to preserve their privileges. “

“This is an attempt to subvert the will of the people of Florida, and Governor DeSantis will not tolerate that,” Griffin said in a statement, responding to Christie’s criticism.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a local government entity created in 1967 to give Disney regulatory control over public services and other functions within the 25,000-acre area that includes its Florida parks and resorts. In addition to local tax obligations, Disney also collects millions of dollars in taxes through Reedy Creek each year to fund these services.

Weeks after Disney denounced the classroom bill, Florida Republicans passed legislation that would eliminate the company’s special designation.Desantis sign Bill a day later.

The move has raised concerns that Florida taxpayers in the two counties surrounding Reed Creek could be saddled with huge tax bills if the state revokes Disney’s self-governing status. In a special session in February, the state Legislature scrapped the plan, replacing it with a proposal to rename the district and allow DeSantis to appoint five of its board members.

But last month, Freshly picked The governing body’s board of directors — now known as the Central Florida Tourist Oversight District — said their predecessors stripped them of many of their powers on the way out of the gate.

The previous board approved an agreement in February that gave Disney the rights to develop the area.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the new board agreed to pass a resolution next week rescinding the development agreement.

Disney took the action unanimously after a barrage of voices, including state agency officials and board attorneys.

“The bottom line is that Disney is engaging in actions comparable to Scrooge McDuck in order to evade Florida law. Its efforts are illegal and they will not stand up,” said David, who was identified as the board’s trial counsel Thompson said.

Thompson and another lawyer, Alan Lawson, argued that the development deal was “invalid” in part because the old board failed to mail notices to affected property owners as required.

Disney did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the board meeting.