Disney Files Subpoena for Former Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe

Shannen Ace

Disney Files Subpoena for Former Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe

Shannen Ace

Disney Files Subpoena for Former Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe

Walt Disney World has issued a subpoena for former Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) Administrator John Classe seeking various documents and information from his tenure with the District.

Disney Files Subpoena for John Classe

John Classe
Source: Orlando Sentinel

John Classe was the District Administrator for almost a decade. When RCID became the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), Classe stayed on for the transition.

The new Board of Supervisors chose Glen Gilzean Jr. to replace Classe. When Gilzean took over the position in May, Disney added him as a defendant in their lawsuit against the District and Florida Governor Ron Desantis.

Classe signed a 1-year contract to stay on as a Special Advisor but it was later terminated and he ceased work with the District by July. He was removed from Disney’s lawsuit.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District logo

Now Disney is seeking documents from Classe concerning the preparation and any analysis of the 2022 Comprehensive Plan, 2023 Development Agreement, 2023 Restrictive Covenants, and the Land Development Regulation Amendments, as well as documents related to the District’s authority to enter into those agreements, any decision to provide or not provide public notices for the Agreements, whether the Development Agreement impacted property owners, and communications with property owners about the Development Agreement.

The CFTOD Board attempted to declare these agreements null and void, which is what led Disney to file their federal lawsuit against DeSantis and the District.

Disney is also looking for documents about the financial impact of their future development activities, concerning the appointment of the District Board of Supervisors, and various communications between Classe, CFTOD, and third parties.

The subpoena calls for John Classe to appear with the documents and testimony on October 31, 2023.

Disney vs. DeSantis & CFTOD

Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World

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.

Bob Chapek
Source: Deadline

Now-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. Former and future CEO Bob Iger also condemned the law.

After Chapek finally 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 is attacking what he calls “woke politics” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through his actions and via the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District:

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. 

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