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New District Board Accuses Disney of Unlawful Agreements

Did Disney try to circumvent Florida law before the new oversight board was appointed?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA — Today, board members for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District – the new governing district for the Walt Disney World area – are up in arms at Disney over “suspect” agreements made before Disney’s board was replaced.

According to the general counsel, Disney crafted a developer agreement that would set in stone Disney's rights over the district property for the next 30 years, regardless of what the new board says. The “unlawful” agreements are designed to “tie the hands of the newly appointed board,” the general counsel said.

After the general counsel advised the board to hire more law firms with a “deeper bench” so it can take on Disney on even footing, the board discussed how to handle “potential legal challenges.” Board members said measures Disney made were for “the purpose of circumventing the governor and the voters in the state of Florida.”

Board members were made aware of the agreements prior to today’s meeting and are calling them “unusual” and “suspect.” The agreements were crafted during the same time that legislation was in motion to strip Disney of control of the district.

“The Executive Office of the Governor is aware of Disney's last-ditch efforts to execute contracts just before ratifying the new law that transfers rights and authorities from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District to Disney,” Taryn Fenske, Communications Director for the Office of Governor DeSantis, said.

“An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law. We are pleased the new Governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney's past behavior,” Fenske added.

Brian Aungst, Jr. – one of the new board members and a land use attorney at the law firm of Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen in Clearwater – said the development agreement created by Disney was done in a “highly unusual” manner as Disney made no promises to do anything in the agreement that would benefit the local district.