ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida’s top cop is wading into the fight between Disney and Reedy Creek over developmental control of the taxing district one day after officials revealed Disney stripped the new state-appointed board of its most important oversight powers before it handed over the keys.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s chief of staff, James Percival, sent the district’s public records office a letter demanding emails, text messages and other communications “discussing an intentional goal of circumventing, avoiding, frustration, mitigating or otherwise attempting to avoid the effects of anticipated actions by the Florida Governor and Florida Legislature.”
On Wednesday, staffers in Gov. DeSantis’ office revealed they had been surprised by Disney twice: first, when the company agreed to hand over control of Reedy Creek without a fight, and second, when their subversion was uncovered.
Administration staffers and Reedy Creek’s new board maintain the development agreement signed between Disney and the district on Feb. 8, shortly before control was turned over, was illegal and void.
Disney officials, for their part, said their agreement was valid and implemented properly.
Both sides appear to now be gearing up for a legal battle. It’s unclear what further actions the DeSantis administration might take in response to Disney’s trick, though legal experts warned Florida ran the risk of involving taxpayer funds if it did anything seen as retaliatory or unconstitutional and Disney opted to sue.
As for the actions by the company, analysts continue to be divided about the legality of the development agreement. An attorney specializing in government matters said Disney appeared to have the upper hand in a trial, but covenant restrictions instituted until the death of King Charles’ last surviving heir may have gone too far.
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