The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is expecting to spend millions of dollars in legal expenses in the near future as Disney’s ongoing legal battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues, and Disney is footing both sides of the bill, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Disney to Pay Both Sides of Legal Battle with CFTOD and DeSantis
The DeSantis-controlled Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board projects that it will spend $4.5 million on litigation during the next budget year, on top of the near $2 million that has already been spent.
To pay for these expenses, the district pulls from the tax revenue it collects, as any local government does. Disney and its affiliated properties pay about 86 percent of the districts property taxes, with the rest of the taxpayers being mostly hotels and businesses in the area.
The district collected a total of $186.7 million in property taxes in 2023. Disney paid about $161.1 million of that amount.
According to the Sentinel, Glen Gilzean, the district’s administrator, has called this growing legal bill “unavoidable.”
CFTOD is suing Disney in state court, hoping to void the agreements that allow Disney to retain control of the district. Most recently, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has filed a new motion asking that the judge will stay the case, placing it on pause as Disney’s recent countersuit makes the same claims as the federal lawsuit against DeSantis.
Disney vs. Central Florida Tourism Oversight District
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the 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.
Former CEO Bob Chapek initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
After Chapek denounced the law, Governor DeSantis moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Ultimately, the District was renamed and DeSantis appointed his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.
DeSantis argued he is attacking something he calls “woke politics” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through these actions and the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board:
Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.
After the CFTOD Board attempted to declare Disney’s final agreements with RCID null and void, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the Board and DeSantis, calling their actions a violation of their constitutional rights.
In the lawsuit, Disney cites “A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
Disney regrets that it has come to this. But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.
The Board then filed a state lawsuit against Disney and Disney is now countersuing on the state level, arguing that because RCID was never actually dissolved, the CFOTD is essentially the same entity and is going back on their word.
Despite his many statements against Disney, DeSantis recently stated he’s “moved on” from the issue and said Disney should drop their lawsuit.
What do you think of this latest update in the ongoing feud between Disney, CFTOD, and DeSantis? Let us know in the comments.