Lawsuit: Disney Accuses DeSantis-Appointed Government of Withholding Public Records

Walt Disney World Resorts Files Lawsuit Against Oversight Government

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Walt Disney World Resorts has recently filed a lawsuit against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), alleging that the oversight government for Walt Disney World has violated Florida public records law. The CFTOD, which was taken over by appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year, has been accused of failing to release documents and properly preserve records, according to the lawsuit filed by Disney on Friday.

The lawsuit claims that the CFTOD has been slow in fulfilling its public records duties, failing to respond completely to a request made by Disney seven months ago. Disney had paid over $2,400 to obtain emails and text messages belonging to the five district board members appointed by DeSantis. The lawsuit seeks to review any documents exempt from release, declare the district’s violation of state public records law, and order the release of the requested documents.

The feud between Disney and the DeSantis-appointed board members began after Disney publicly opposed the state’s so-called “don’t say gay” law, which prohibits classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. In response, DeSantis and Republican legislators took over the district Disney had controlled for over five decades and installed board members loyal to the governor.

The new lawsuit also alleges that the district is failing to follow public records laws by allowing DeSantis-appointed board members to use personal email addresses and texts for district Business without a proper process for preservation.

Historically, Disney, DeSantis, and the DeSantis appointees have been battling for control of the government in two pending lawsuits in federal and state court. Disney’s latest lawsuit adds to the ongoing legal disputes between the parties.

The lawsuit filed in state court in Orlando states, “CFTOD has prevented Disney from discovering the actions of its government through public records requests, in violation of Florida law.”

As the legal battle continues, concerns have arisen about the departure of approximately 50 out of about 370 employees from the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District since it was taken over in February. This migration has raised apprehensions about the loss of decades of institutional knowledge and the reputation of a well-run government.

For more updates, follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

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