“These overreaching and self-imposed regulations are aimed at destroying recently passed laws, Florida’s legislative process, and the will of Floridians,” DeSantis said. he wrote in a letter to Melinda Miguel, Florida inspector general.
DeSantis and his allies were blindsided by the move by Disney, and it was a talking point DeSantis used repeatedly in his re-election bid and in recent stops across the country. The governor has repeatedly spoken about how Disney overcame the state after the company went against the state’s civil rights education bill, also called the “No Gay” bill by critics.
The news about Disney’s handling also sparked criticism from former President Donald Trump’s allies.
“President Trump wrote the Art Deal and broke the peace in the Middle East.” “Ron DeSantis got treated by Mickey Mouse,” Taylor Budowich, head of the Trump Super PAC, said. he wrote on Twitter.
Florida lawyers, at the request of DeSantis, passed legislation earlier this year to take over the leadership of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, an entity that has allowed the company to operate its government-like functions for more than 50 years in central Florida.
That legislation came about a year after advocates pushed through a measure to remove Reedy Creek in a special session. But before the new DeSantis-backed board could assume control of Reedy Creek — or sign the legislation, the outgoing board passed a series of agreements to ensure that Disney retains control, giving the company final say on ownership changes. .
The DeSantis administration contends Disney’s actions stem from “serious legal weaknesses” such as insufficient legal notice and ethical violations.
DeSantis wants both the inspector general, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to investigate the validity of the board’s exit plans, and any profit the company may have made as a result of such a decision.
Republican leaders have also indicated they want to pursue legislation to fight Disney’s power play, but it’s unclear what that might look like. House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) tweeted Monday “All legislative options are now on the table.”
“It’s hard to say what happened,” Renner told reporters Friday.
Disney, however, stood by its actions, saying in a statement last week that all agreements between Reedy Creek and the company’s boards were “tailored” and “discussed and approved in an open, public forum in compliance with the Florida government’s Sunshine Law.”
CEO Bob Iger on Monday called Florida’s retaliation “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”
“The company has the right to freedom of speech as people do,” Iger told shareholders at Disney’s annual meeting, as CNN reported. “The president is very angry about the position that Disney has taken, and it seems that he has decided to stand against us… in effect to seek to claim the company’s constitutional rights.
“And what seems just to me, against any company or individual, but especially against the company which you live for the republic.”
In his memoir released earlier this year, DeSantis described how he secretly launched an operation in 2022 to craft an initial bill that targeted Disney. “You need to be amazed — no one can see this coming,” his book quotes him as telling then-House Speaker Chris Sprowls.
Gary Fineout contributed to this report.