In a significant turn of events, Disney added ‘secret’ declarations, strongly favoring financial interests, catching DeSantis’ team off guard.
Disney’s Sneaky Declaration
Only a few weeks prior to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointing a new board to oversee Disney’s special governing district in Orlando, Disney formulated a declaration specifying that any alterations made to the district must serve the interests of Walt Disney World.
This latest development has the potential to escalate the dispute between DeSantis and Disney, which reached a critical point last year after Disney opposed a state law prohibiting the instruction of gender and sexual orientation to students from kindergarten to third grade.
Here’s What It Says
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the document from February 8th gives Disney the authority to review and provide feedback on any modifications made to the properties within the district, previously called the Reedy Creek Improvement District and now referred to as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
That document also states that the declaration shall be enforceable “in perpetuity” or, if that is deemed unenforceable, “until 21 years after the death of the last surviving descendants of King Charles III, King of England.”
According to the BBC, these “royal lives” clauses date to the 17th century, though are rarely used.
Although the document was drafted over a month ago, the newly appointed members of the oversight board were only recently made aware of its existence.
DeSantis and Team Were Shocked
“I can’t think of a more naked attempt to circumvent the will of the voters and the will of the Florida Legislature,” new member Brian Aungst Jr. said according to the station. “That is offensive to me.”
According to the affiliate, the new board chairman, Martin Garcia, warned that contesting the document could lead to prolonged legal battles, potentially requiring the involvement of the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a result, the board voted to engage the services of two external law firms to investigate any potential legal issues.
A spokesperson for DeSantis issued a statement acknowledging Disney’s attempt to obtain “new rights and authorities” before the special district’s change in status, which they described as a last-ditch effort by the company.
“An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law,” said communications director Taryn Fenske.
“We are pleased the new Governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney’s past behavior.”
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