The Political War Between DeSantis and Disney Continues: Oversight Board to File Suit Against Disney

On Monday, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District announced its intention to sue Disney in response to Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Last Wednesday, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, alleging that the Republican orchestrated a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” against the company, infringing on Disney’s free speech rights.

Disney is challenging the authority of DeSantis’s recently formed board of directors to oversee the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which encompasses the Walt Disney World Resort. 

According to Martin Garcia, head of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,  Disney sued them, and they had no choice but to respond. On Monday, Garcia informed Politico that the district intends to take legal action in a central Florida state court, where both the district and Disney are located, to achieve justice. The board met Monday morning and approved a move to initiate a lawsuit against Disney in state court.

Disney took legal action by filing a lawsuit against the governor, board, and five members in an attempt to overturn the state’s takeover of the theme park district that Disney controlled for over five decades. The lawsuit filed by Central Florida Tourism Oversight District aims to ensure that the oversight board continues to govern the design and construction in the area, including the Disney World district covering 25,000 acres.

This comes after the previous board, which was controlled by Disney, gave up these powers to the company. The lawsuit was filed before the new board members appointed by DeSantis had their first meeting earlier this year.

Disney’s legal lawsuit escalated a spat between DeSantis and the corporation last year when the company pushed to repeal Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Democrats. DeSantis replied by urging the Florida legislature to deprive Disney of its self-governing powers and establish a new board comprised entirely of his nominees, which now controls the theme park’s growth.

That board recently voted to cancel two development contracts signed by Disney in February.

On Thursday of last week, a Florida court issued a summons against DeSantis concerning Disney’s case. At the time of the issuance, the governor was located in Israel, over 6,000 miles away. The United States District Court issued the Northern District of Florida summons, which was mailed to the governor’s office in Tallahassee. Advising that a lawsuit was filed and they had 21 days from the date they were served to file a response.

Last Thursday in Jerusalem, DeSantis expressed his belief that the suit lacks merit. DeSantis stated that Disney is dissatisfied with following the same rules as other companies. He claims that Disney wants special treatment, such as lower taxes and more control without any oversight. However, DeSantis believes no company should be exempt from accountability in Florida.