1 of 4 | Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., Monday asked Florida’s inspector general to get involved in the ongoing dispute between the Walt Disney Company and the state. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
April 3 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday asked Florida's inspector general to get involved in the ongoing dispute between the Walt Disney Co. and the state.
DeSantis called on Inspector General Lourdes Howell-Thomas to investigate an attempt by the media conglomerate to retain autonomous control over the area covering its Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
In late February, DeSantis signed a bill removing Disney World's power to govern itself, handing the responsibility for the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the state.
Now called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the state board is entirely appointed by DeSantis. The governor immediately removed the previous Disney-aligned board members.
However, before the Florida legislature gave DeSantis control, the board of the Reedy Creek Improvement District quietly voted to transfer a bulk of development and governing power to Disney.
On Feb. 27, when the new board took control, it discovered the binding power transfer agreement.
Monday's directive from DeSantis asks state law enforcement to examine whether that move was legal.
Disney has defended the move.
In 1967, before the park was built, original state law gave Disney the power to elect all of the district's board members, control over land development and fire prevention.
"These collusive and self-dealing arrangements aim to nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida's legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians," reads a letter penned by DeSantis to Disney Monday.
"In addition, based on initial observations of counsel, the RCID board's actions appear to suffer from serious legal infirmities, including, among other things, inadequate notice, lack of consideration, improper delegation of authority, and ethical violations, such as conflicts of self-interest and self-dealing."
The back-and-forth between Disney and DeSantis stems from Florida's so-called "don't say gay" law, which prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or identity in primary grade levels.
Democrats have said Florida's move to take control of the special district from Disney, was retaliation for the corporation publicly opposing the law, which many see as discriminatory.