The Walt Disney Company fired another salvo at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in their bitter feud, suing his hand-picked board for allegedly failing to release documents and preserve public records as required by state law.
In a lawsuit filed in Florida state court on Friday, Disney accused the newly created Central Florida Tourism Oversight District of dragging its feet in producing email correspondence between its members.
DeSantis had dissolved Disney’s semi-autonomous tax district that had jurisdiction over its Orlando-area theme parks after it took issue with his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Earlier this year, Disney requested that the board reveal emails and text messages among its five members — all of whom were appointed by DeSantis.
“CFTOD has prevented Disney from discovering the actions of its government through public records requests, in violation of Florida law,” it was alleged in the lawsuit.
“The Court should grant Disney relief.”
CFTOD board members are accused in the lawsuit of using their personal email addresses and devices to send messages related to district business — a violation of public records laws.
The Post has sought comment from CFTOD.
The origins of the DeSantis-Disney feud can be traced back to January of last year, when the Republican governor’s allies in the state legislature introduced a bill that would bar sex and gender identity education for public school students through the third grade.
Disney management came under pressure from its employees and pro-LGBTQ activists to publicly oppose the legislation.
After Disney issued a statement condemning the legislation, which was signed into law in the spring of last year, DeSantis moved to strip the company of its semi-autonomous powers over its theme parks.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created by Florida decades ago to entice the California-based company to build a theme park in Orlando, was a Disney-dominated body that exercised control over taxation, zoning and other aspects of road and theme park maintenance with little interference from the state and county governments nearby.
In April of last year, legislators in Tallahassee dissolved the RCID — a move that was codified into law by DeSantis.
Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers approved renaming the RCID as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District — the members of which are to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.
Just before the RCID’s dissolution, the now-defunct board struck an eleventh-hour deal with Disney that handed the company much of the body’s authority.
When the newly installed CFTOD declared the move null and void, Disney filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting the edict.
Disney has accused DeSantis and the state government of violating the company’s First Amendment rights.
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