The board responsible for overseeing Walt Disney World’s special taxation district in Florida has accused the previous board, which was controlled by Disney, of stripping it of power through a series of restrictive covenants.
This move is seen as an attempt to circumvent the authority of the new board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was given control over the board in February of this year.
The current board members held their first meeting earlier this month and claimed that they found out about the restrictive covenants after their appointments.
The covenants, which were signed by the previous board members, give Disney maximum developmental power over the resort’s 27,000 acres in central Florida, limit the current board’s ability to govern, and restrict their use of Disney-related trademarks.
Board member Brian Aungst Jr. called the move a “subversion of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the governor.”
The board is now considering legal action in response to what it sees as an “eleventh-hour” act that effectively ties their hands.
Disney has defended its actions, stating that all agreements signed between the company and the district were “appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law.”
The entertainment giant also faced scrutiny from DeSantis and his supporters last year after it publicly opposed a law that restricts classroom instruction of gender and sexual orientation.
The move by the previous board to restrict the current board’s power is seen as a continuation of the political battle between DeSantis and Disney.
Florida lawmakers passed legislation last year that ended Disney’s virtual autonomy in developing the 25,000 acres in central Florida where its theme parks are located, a move seen as retaliation for the company’s criticism of the Parental Rights in Education Act.