A DeSantis-backed tourism board announced on Monday they will counter-sue Disney in response to the company’s lawsuit against the governor. The dispute is centered around the control of land containing Disney’s Orlando theme parks, and the counter-lawsuit was filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board. Disney challenged the authority of this newly appointed board in their lawsuit but DeSantis maintains that the board’s creation is within his powers. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the dueling DeSantis-Disney suits:
The Original Disney Lawsuit
Last week, Disney filed a lawsuit which alleges DeSantis orchestrated a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” which violates the company’s free speech rights. The company argued that DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which strips them of the power to govern the land around their parks, is not legal and should be made void. In the suit, Disney also argues that DeSantis’ board was made in retaliation for the company speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
DeSantis quickly laughed off the legal move stating, “I don’t think the suit has merit. They’re upset because they’re having to live by the same rules as everybody else. They don’t want to pay the same taxes as everybody else and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight.”
“The idea that somehow being pro-business means giving companies their own governments, that is not what a free market is all about, last I checked,” he added.
DeSantis accused Disney of being unhappy about having to abide by the same rules as everyone else, adding that the company had no transparency or accountability due to its special taxing district.
The DeSantis-Backed Counter-Suit
On Monday, Martin Garcia, chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, stated that the Disney lawsuit left her board with only one option. “Disney sued us, we have no choice now but to respond. The district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where both it and Disney reside and do business,” she said. The move was made after the board met on Monday and passed a motion and agreed to take legal action against Disney.
“When I explain the idea that this board is trying to bring new and better ideas to the district, it makes all the sense to all my friends on the right and left,” added chairwoman Garcia.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “The suit will ask the courts to uphold and enforce the oversight board’s actions voiding Disney’s agreements that gave the entertainment giant control over development in Central Florida.”
Disney has not yet responded for comment since the counter-suit was announced.