For Better or Worse, Everything The Disney Board Does Reflects on DeSantis

Everything the Disney Board does reflects on DeSantis
Credit: Disney / Gage Skidmore, Flickr

For a while there, it looked like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his appointees on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District were winning. They took away the Reedy Creek Improvement District and replaced it with DeSantis appointees loyal to the governor. But then the actual governing of the former Reedy Creek District took place, and that’s when things started to go off the rails and reflected poorly on the governor.

Mickey Mouse and Ron DeSantis

Credit: Disney/ Flickr

At first, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District proclaimed lower taxes within the District and eliminating all DEI programs and race-based hirings, both priorities for Governor DeSantis. But then the Board went after employee perks, and things got complicated.

The CFTOD made a referral to the Florida Inspector General, claiming that Disney bilked the District out of more than $2.5 million in perks and discounts for employees at the Walt Disney World Resort. The Board immediately moved to eliminate all those perks. The Board referred to it as a “scheme” to defraud taxpayers. 

And that’s when the firefighters got involved. At first, the Reedy Creek Fire Department backed the new Board and Gov DeSantis’ takeover of the District. Then, after a contentious contract negotiation with the new Board, the firefighters started to cool on the CFTOD.

At the Board’s last meeting, the firefighters passionately defended the season passes and discounts as a perk of their jobs that they retained even after they retired. The Board is currently negotiating with the firefighters’ union on keeping some structure to the season passes. However, the damage seems to have been done.

Kaitlin Puccio, a New York-based attorney, told Newsweek:

I imagine that some voters might tire of DeSantis’ fixation on Disney, even if they initially agreed with his decision to revoke a special tax status in response to Disney’s opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act. Anything the CFTOD does will likely be attributed to DeSantis directly, and even if he claims that he has ‘moved on,’ it doesn’t appear that way, and appearances are immensely important when running for president.

DeSantis welcomes Disney's surrender

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

This comes at an inopportune time for Florida Gov Ron DeSantis as he struggles to connect with GOP voters in the Presidential Primary. And a fight with firefighters with his name attached doesn’t help the situation.

But having stripped the Walt Disney Company of its self-governing Board, DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board are linked for better or worse. It’s just the consequences of the Disney fight that he will have to live with.

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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