Ron DeSantis tried to score political points by declaring war on Disney. The House of Mouse had become a popular right-wing punching bag for trying to keep cruise guests from dying and acknowledging that gay people are real.
2024 GOP hopefuls worked to find ways to exact legislative revenge on the company, but the Florida governor found a more direct avenue for retaliation. DeSantis would terminate the state’s agreements giving the company functional oversight of the land surrounding Walt Disney World via the Reedy Creek Improvement District. A hand-picked board of DeSantis cronies would take over the Reedy Creek board and thus control a lot of the land around the park and, presumably, really put the screws to Disney for the sin of being the state’s primary tourist attraction.
But Disney’s lawyers are smarter:
The board announced that a hired special council discovered agreements were made in February between Disney and Reedy Creek, weeks ahead of the signing of HB-9B, which handed over direct control of the district’s development rights and privileges to the company.
Board member Ron Peri’s said the group of five that Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to take control of Disney’s “corporate kingdom” has very little power to govern.
The agreements even make the new board get Disney’s permission before trying to do anything! Sometimes it’s awesome to behold lawyers at work.
As it turns out, seizing control of a lawfully constituted board doesn’t turn on a dime and while DeSantis talked up his plan to the fawning right-wing press, the old board continued entering agreements in the best interest of the area it oversaw. And the best interest of the area involved tying up the land in concrete agreements benefiting the company that drives all economic growth in the area and not the current governor’s polling in Iowa. Tying them up as long as the Rule Against Perpetuities will allow!
And that is why it still makes it onto the bar exam.
But Disney built in another safeguard in case the R.A.P. isn’t enough. Mike DeForest of Orlando’s channel 6 news posted this image from the agreement.
Lilibet of Sussex was born in 2021. I think the new board has a long time to wait. Maybe DeSantis shouldn’t have made all the “corporate kingdom” swipes.
For his part, the governor’s office has a meek response:
DeSantis may well try to toss legally executed agreements in the rubbish, but there’s not a lot to suggest that the legal team assembled by one of the most powerful entities on the planet asked GPT to throw together a slapdash agreement.
The old board GAVE PUBLIC, CONTEMPORANEOUS NOTICE OF ALL OF THESE AGREEMENTS. If DeSantis could’ve been bothered to stop yammering to every cable news outlet about stopping the woke mob, he might’ve sent some lawyers to do something about these deals. But he slept on his rights — or more accurately the rights of the puppet board he planned to install — and the deed is now literally and figuratively done.
Now let’s all go over to Truth Social and watch Trump roast this guy for bungling his first attempt at playing with the big kids.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.