Less than four months after its formation, one member of the controversial Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors has already resigned his post — Michael Sasso.
Sasso was one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ original appointees to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors, which replaced the former Reedy Creek Improvement District board in February. An experienced lawyer, Sasso is a partner at the firm which carries his name — Sasso & Sasso — in Orlando.
His term was set to expire in February 2027, making his resignation remarkably premature. Spectrum News 13 anchor Greg Angel confirmed the news today on his Twitter account.
A reason or explanation was not given by Sasso or the CFTOD Board, but it is worth noting that his wife was recently appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. Litigation between Disney, the CFTOD, and the State of Florida including Gov. DeSantis is still pending.
Disney, DeSantis, and CFTOD Board Lawsuits
The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking a rather vague perception of something he calls “woke politics” invading the state.
After heated exchanges and dramatic actions taken by Governor DeSantis in an apparent and self-described act of retribution, The Walt Disney Company sued the Governor and his newly handpicked board, citing a “targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.” The plaintiff argues that this chronology of events “threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
The CFTOD Board of Supervisors voted to file their own countersuit against Disney, essentially seeking to void and de-legitimize agreements Disney made with the previous Reedy Creek Improvement District before its forced dissolution. The new 188-page complaint names the Board itself as plaintiff against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The district is asking the court to render Disney’s development agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District as unenforceable, null, and void. They also ask the same be done of the restrictive covenants, which notably set the benchmark for expiry at 21 years after the death of the last living descendant of King Charles III, living as of the date of the document.
While Disney’s lawsuit is through federal court, the Board’s lawsuit is through Florida’s state courts.
A recent poll shows Americans think the court should rule in favor of Disney over Governor DeSantis and that citizens aren’t as worried about “woke politics” as other issues.