Lawyers for Ron DeSantis board claim Disney made ‘backroom’ development deal

Attorneys for a Florida board handpicked by Gov. Ron DeSantis accused Disney on Wednesday of engaging in a “backroom deal” with its predecessor to retain development rights for one of its theme parks located in a special tax district. Lawyers for the Central Florida Tourism District said during a board meeting that the House of Mouse brokered the “sweetheart” development agreement earlier this year — prompting the new board to agree unanimously to hold a vote to nullify the deal April 26. 

 The five-member board is expected at that meeting to declare the previous development agreement with Disney “null and void,” a source familiar with the matter told The Post. In prepared remarks, Chairman Martin Garcia slammed Disney for pushing forward with its 11th-hour attempt to retain development rights — and praised DeSantis for being “willing to shine a light on the arrangement” by appointing the new board. “Regardless of your politics, nobody should favor outdated legislation that elevates a corporation above the public good,” he said. “In seeking to improve the functioning of the district, nothing is off the table for us.” Garcia also claimed that the new board had “wanted to work with Disney, but Disney decided they didn’t want to work with us. It was Disney’s way or the highway.” Lawyers for the DeSantis-appointed board said in a presentation to its members that Disney illegally tried to extend its decades-long special arrangement in the jurisdiction formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.


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