Disney Furiously Denies DeSantis Board Accusations of Millions of Dollars of Bribes: “Neither Objective nor Credible”

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Disney World with Mickey Mouse walking away from Ron DeSantis

Credit: Disney/Ron DeSantis, edited by ITM

The Walt Disney Company is hitting back against bribery from the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board appointed by Ron DeSantis, calling them “revisionist history” and “neither object nor credible.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looking sad in front of the Cinderella Castle at Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

The feud between Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis has been making national headlines for months now, and accusations by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board that the iconic media company has been bribing district employees for decades with “millions” of dollars worth of benefits and perks certainly won’t cool things down.

Not that the battle between Disney and the Florida Governor needed more to keep it going. Currently, the House of Mouse and Ron DeSantis have an active federal court lawsuit in which Disney has accused the presidential candidate of misusing his executive authority to punish them for expressing political opinions.

Ron DeSantis with his hands raised next to Mickey Mouse in a white dinner coat
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: DeSantis’ Disney Team Scrambles After Discovering It Owes $2 Million

Disney claims that former CEO Bob Chapek’s public stance against the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act (which DeSantis has since signed into law) resulted in the governor retaliating against the largest single-site employer in his state by dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the former special tax area where Walt Disney World is located.

In its place, Ron DeSantis established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, whose board of directors was appointed by the governor and is widely viewed as an instrument of his control over Walt Disney World. While DeSantis initially boasted about the dissolution of Reedy Creek and joked to the media that he might establish a state prison or competing theme park near Walt Disney World, the tune quickly changed when it came to light that Reedy Creek and Disney had signed last-minute contracts that essentially made the new board powerless.

Glen Gilzean Becomes New Administrator for Disney’s Governing District, Will Earn as Much as a US President
Credit: Inside the Magic

Unsurprisingly, a state court lawsuit is currently pending between the board of directors, led by the controversial DeSantis appointee Glen Gilzean, and Disney. The board has asked a judge to throw out the last-minute contracts, claiming they should be legally null and void, while Disney has pushed back, asserting that the board simply didn’t do due diligence to publically announced meetings and deals.

Related: South Carolina Joins DeSantis, Deals $105 Million Blow To “Woke” Disney

Now, the board of directors is making symbolic steps to further distance itself from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District and assert its authority over the area. In a shocking new 80-page report, the board has also claimed that Disney has been giving de facto bribes to officials, saying, “For years, the company treated district employees like Disney employees by, for instance, providing complimentary annual passes and steep discounts — benefits and perks that were akin to bribes.”

Cast Member dressed as Mickey Mouse at a Disney Park
Credit: Disney

Unsurprisingly, Disney’s response (via Orlando Sentinel) has been swift and harsh. A statement from the company says:

This report is an exercise in revisionist history. It is neither objective nor credible, and only seeks to advance CFTOD’s interests in its wasteful litigation that could derail investment within the district. Further, it does not change the fact that the CFTOD board was appointed by the governor to punish Disney for exercising its Constitutional right to free speech. This report also comes on the heels of numerous reports in the media which have raised legitimate concerns around the governance of the district under its new leadership. While the board may wish to undermine Disney’s ability to continue investing in the region, we are extremely proud of our impact on the Central Florida economy over the past half-century and we remain committed to maintaining the highest quality experience for the tens of millions of guests who visit Walt Disney World each year.

The next battle between Disney and the DeSantis board will undoubtedly bring new surprises and accusations, but it very much seems like matters are finally bubbling over.

Do you think Disney was bribing Reedy Creek employees by providing perks and benefits? Tell us in the comments below!

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