Disneyland Executive is Part of “Cabal” Controlling Anaheim’s Government, FBI Records Show

in Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Castle

Credit: Disney

An FBI affidavit made public last week anonymously identified an executive employee of an influential company as a critical player in a “cabal” steering the Anaheim government. According to The Los Angeles Times, that employee is an executive at Disneyland.

A black and white headshot of Carrie Nocella.
Credit: Carrie Nocella LinkedIn

The Los Angeles Times cites “a person familiar with the investigation” as their source, identifying the executive as Disneyland Resort Director of External Affairs Carrie Nocella.

The Walt Disney Company and Carrie Nocella haven’t been publicly accused of any wrongdoing, but the investigation is tied to the recent resignation of Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu.

Related: Judge Finds Disney Park Guilty In Court, Orders Company To Pay Damages In Lawsuit

In the FBI affidavit, FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins accuses Todd Ament, former head of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, of lying to a mortgage lender in Southern California. Ament is allegedly the ringleader of the “cabal,” referred to as “a small group of individuals who met in person to discuss strategy surrounding several matters within Anaheim — matters that were often pending, or soon to be pending, before the Anaheim City Council.”

harry sidhu (left) and ken potrock (right) with sleeping beauty castle at disneyland
Credit: City of Anaheim

The report described “Company A Employee,” which the source claims to be Disneyland’s Carrie Nocella, as one of the alleged Southern California “cabal’s” ringleaders “to some extent.”

Ahead of a secretive gathering for Anaheim business leaders in late 2020, Nocella allegedly provided input to Ament and a political consultant on who to invite. The Los Angeles Times claims details of this consultant match Jeff Flint, chief executive and senior partner at FSB Public Affairs, a firm that has previously represented Disneyland Resort.

mayor sidhu waving
Credit: YouTube Best Life & Beyond

Flint is on a leave of absence as of last week but denies any wrongdoing. During a November 2021 wiretapped phone call with the consultant alleged to be Flint and an Anaheim Politician, referred to as Elected Official 1, the politician asked if “Company A Employee” (suspected to be Nocella) had invited certain colleagues to the gathering. From The Los Angeles Times:

“No, I talked about it with Todd [Ament] and [Company A Employee],” the political consultant said. “We felt like for this first one we’ll kinda keep things big picture and stick with um, with, um, [Elected Official 4] and [Elected Official 3]. … But, um, [Elected Official 2’s], you know, I think he’s on the team, but he’s just gonna take some management because he’s got competing pressures.”

Disneyland in Pandemic
Credit: Disney

The retreat was held at the JW Marriott in Anaheim in December 2020. Anaheim City Councilmen Stephen Faessel and Trevor O’Neil and City Manager Jim Vanderpool have publicly admitted attending. Faessel claimed the meeting was “exactly the kind of meeting you’d expect City leadership to have” and that it concerned him how the meeting was being “depicted.”

Nocella and Elected Official 1 were scheduled to attend, but Nocella hasn’t confirmed or denied attending the Southern California retreat. In emails, group members described keeping “the family close” and the event as “family members only.”

Adkins also alleges that the political consultant worked with the “Company A Employee” and Ament to draft a script for Elected Official 1 to read at a City Council meeting on March 23, 2021. The script advocated issuing up to $210 million in bonds to make up for business’ pandemic-related shortfalls.

disney california adventure
Disney California Adventure, Credit: Disney Parks Blog

The political consultant texted Elected Official 1’s assistant hours before the City Council meeting, saying that Company A “asked to delete reference to [Company A’s parking lot]. Will send to you.”

Then mayor Sidhu was the only elected official to speak on bonds during that meeting. He referenced Disneyland during his speech, saying, “I believe Disney will continue to invest in Anaheim, strengthening our destination and ensuring Anaheim remains the long-term premier tourist attraction of the West Coast.”

“Company A Employee” texted Elected Official 1’s assistant following the speech, complaining that he “read the script so poorly.”

disneyland tram
Credit: D23

This is notable- in the 1990s, city leaders agreed to issue $510 million in bonds to finance construction at Disneyland, including $108 million for the Mickey & Friends parking structure at the Resort.

In 2015, Anaheim’s City Council approved legislation shielding Disneyland from potential tax on ticket sales for 45 years after Disneyland promised to build Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and another major project. City officials also gave the company a $267-million tax break for a luxury hotel project that was ultimately canceled.

When city voters were set to approve a measure that required any business receiving government subsidies to pay employees a living wage in 2018, Disneyland went to the City Council and asked them to cancel their 45-year tax projection. (Disney did not publicly comment on whether the two were related.)

Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

Disneyland is also known for making political contributions in California, including $1.3 million in 2021 to the Support Our Anaheim Resort political action committee

The Walt Disney Company made the following statement to The Los Angeles Times: 

“We have seen media reports of the complaint and no authorities have reached out to us about it.”

Nocella declined to comment and has deleted her social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram. She was active on LinkedIn on Wednesday evening, still commenting on connections’ posts.

Disney California Adventure Park Entrance
Credit: Disney

What do you think of a Disneyland executive’s potential involvement in a government-influencing “cabal?” Let us know in the comments. 

 

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