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Disney Sues Gov. DeSantis Alleging Weaponizing Government Power

#Disney #DeSantis #Florida #TaxDistrict #DontSayGay #LegalBattle

Disney Sues Gov. DeSantis Alleging Weaponizing Government Power.jpg

By Michael MH | | April 26, 2023

On Wednesday, a Florida board appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis voted to nullify two agreements permitting Disney's expansion at Disney World. The New York Times reported that Disney responded by suing DeSantis, the board, and other officials, alleging "a targeted campaign of government retaliation." The conflict between DeSantis and Disney began after the company criticized Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law and halted political donations to the state[1][2].

Related Story: Disney Opposes "Don't Say Gay Bill" Then THIS Happens

The current dispute involves a special tax district encompassing Disney World, created in 1967, which grants Disney control over various aspects of the property, including fire protection, policing, waste management, and development planning. Disney's lawsuit claims that the attempt to "void" the development contracts is retaliation that is "patently unconstitutional."

Read the lawsuit here.

Disney quotes DeSantis discussing various punitive actions, such as creating a state park or building another amusement park, and even putting a "state prison" next to Walt Disney World. The legal dispute is of significant magnitude, raising the possibility of reaching the Supreme Court for a decision[1][2].

Related Story: DeSantis, Sued For His Political Attack On Disney

Ex-Governor Chris Christie, a Republican from New Jersey, expressed disapproval of DeSantis' approach, asserting that employing governmental power against political adversaries deviates from the pro-enterprise principles typically championed by the GOP. The development contracts in question were signed by the previous oversight board on February 8, before the DeSantis-appointed board was in place. Under the new bill, the governor was granted the authority to appoint every member of the special tax district's five-member governing body. Disney maintains that the contracts the new board voted to nullify are basic land-use agreements between a developer and its local regulator, necessary for "investment and effective commercial progress.[1][2]"

Disney's legal filing underscores [1][2] the infringement of the corporation's constitutional rights, specifically referencing the Contracts Clause, the Takings Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the First Amendment. The organization emphasizes First Amendment concerns and presents the lawsuit as a final recourse, expressing their preference for an alternative resolution to the situation.

In response to the dispute, DeSantis has threatened further retaliation, including building another amusement park, a prison, or a state park near Orlando. The new oversight board may also consider requiring Disney to post warnings about human trafficking at its hotels, creating more affordable housing for employees, and banning masking mandates. Additionally, the Florida inspector general is investigating criminal fraud related to alleged ethical violations, such as conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

At Disney's annual shareholder gathering on April 3, CEO Bob Iger underscored the corporation's significance to Florida, revealing intentions to invest more than $17 billion into Disney World over the upcoming decade.

Iger also mentioned that approximately 50 million guests will visit the park this year, with nearly 8 million arriving from international locations, highlighting Disney's position as the state's top taxpayer. As of now, no response has been received from DeSantis' office regarding a request for comment.

Sum it up, Disney is suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging he is weaponizing government power in a dispute over a special tax district. The conflict arose after Disney criticized Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law [1][2] and halted political donations. The lawsuit focuses on the nullification of two development agreements, which Disney claims is unconstitutional retaliation. Ex-Governor Chris Christie has criticized DeSantis' approach, stating that it deviates from the pro-enterprise principles typically upheld by the GOP.

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