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DeSantis Board Hires Lawyer to Find ‘Legislative’ Avenues To Curb Disney’s ‘Special Interest’

DeSantis Disney Board hires lawyer Donald Kochan
Credit: Disney

After nickel and diming the former Reedy Creek Improvement District employees out of season passes and discounts at Walt Disney World, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Administrator Glen Gilzean announced that the Board was budgeting more than $4.5 million for lawyers in 2024.

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Greg Gilzean Credit: Urban League

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While most of that money will be spent fighting off dueling lawsuits with the Walt Disney Company, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District announced that it was hiring lawyer and professor Donald Kochan to undertake a study of the legal and economic practices of the former Reedy Creek Board.

Through this study, the new Board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hopes to receive recommendations on municipal and legislative avenues to curb Disney’s power within the District.

Martin Garcia, Chairman of the CFTOD Board, said in the press release:

We could not be advised by a better or more qualified expert than Professor Kochan. And the work is critical. For over 56 years, Disney had their own governmentally controlled kingdom which, while sparking economic growth for central Florida, also produced many negative outcomes for the taxpayers, employees, and citizens of Orange and Osceola Counties. To discover and solve more latent problems, the Board is turning to Professor Kochan to elucidate some of the economic and legal implications the old structure created and provide recommendations to further reform the District to make it more responsive to the citizens of central Florida.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District

Credit: CFTOD

According to his biography on the George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law website, Professor Kochan’s areas of study are property law, constitutional law, administrative law, natural resources and environmental law, tort law, and law and economics. He is a law professor and director of the Law and Economics Center at the University. He is also a member of the conservative Federalist Society.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the report will be sent to the Florida Legislature to help determine future courses of action on legislating the District. Kochan will be paid $110,000 for his work.

Kochan will be looking at the history of the District, while the Disney Company is engaged in two separate lawsuits with the new Board. Disney has sued that Board and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis in Federal Court for allegedly violating their First Amendment Rights and for retaliating against the company for speaking out on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis/ EPCOT

Credit: Disney/Flickr

The DeSantis appointees sued the Walt Disney Company in State Court to void any deals Disney struck with the former Board, including the “King Charles III” Clause. Disney countersued the Board, seeking damages. 

There is no set timetable for either case to be heard. The Disney Company is the largest business within the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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