Florida Attorney General requests records on Reedy Creek last-ditch power grab

by | Mar 31, 2023


  • The Attorney General of Florida has requested all relevant records, emails, and text messages related to developmental negotiations that were mediated by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is now defunct.
  • This request follows the discovery that the outgoing Board of Supervisors for the special district entered into agreements with Disney aimed at retaining their control of the territory before the state took over.
  • Earlier this year, legislation was signed to strip Disney of its control over Reedy Creek and rename the district to the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” with the governor appointing the five individuals to the Board of Supervisors. 

The office of state Attorney General Ashley Moody has initiated an official request for the procurement of all pertinent records, emails, text messages, and other correspondences pertaining to developmental negotiations mediated by the now-defunct Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The formal submission comes just two days after the Office of Governor Ron DeSantis discovered that the outgoing Board of Supervisors for the special district entered into agreements with Disney, aimed at retaining their grip on the territory prior to the state’s assumption of control.

The new state-controlled board notified the DeSantis administration that the outgoing Disney-controlled members signed a thirty-year agreement on Feb 8 that allows Disney to retain major control of the authority over public lands, land-use agreements, and various operational responsibilities.

The district’s new oversight group stated on Wednesday that it will employ outside legal counsel to examine the legality of the agreements. During a conference call earlier this week, the DeSantis Administration stated that they view the contracts void as a matter of law and unable to be enforced. The administration also said that they were unaware of the agreements until the new board solicited all financials and documentation.

“Please provide copies of all emails, text messages, and other correspondence from or to employees, board members, or other affiliates of the Reedy Creek Improvement District regarding the following topics: Documents discussing agreements, covenants, or similar documents approved or considered by the Board of Supervisors on February 8th, 2023,” reads the letter, obtained by The Capitolist.

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed legislation drafted and passed during a recent special session that strips Disney of control over Reedy Creek. The House Bill officially renames the district to the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” and granted the governor the right to appoint the five individuals to the Board of Supervisors.The Capitolist attempted to reach Disney for comment but did not receive a response.

Prior to the bill’s signing, landowners within Reedy Creek elected Board members. Due to Disney’s ownership of the majority of land within the district, the corporation was effectively able to hand-select the Board’s supervisors. Preventing Disney from still having a stake in the district’s management, a provision within the bill prevents any individual who was employed by or affiliated with the company within the past three years from serving on the Board.

Earlier this year, DeSantis announced the five individuals who will serve on Reedy Creek Improvement District’s Board of Supervisors, effectively completing the state’s takeover of the district.

The five supervisors — Sarasota school board member Bridget Ziegler, Attorney Brian Aungst, Jr., Seminole County Bar Association President Mike Sasso, CEO of The Gathering USA Ron Peri, and attorney Martin Garcia, who will serve as the Board’s Chair — will hold voting power over any governmental decisions made within the district.

6 Comments

  1. John

    DeSantis dug himself into a legal hole. There should be a means to remove him from office for his shenanigans. Floridians didn’t vote for an authoritarian governor.

  2. Deborah Coffey

    Not everyone just lies down and takes the kick from the Fascist governor!

  3. dmmorrison

    Shouldn’t the Atty. Genl. be looking into DeSantis’ questionable move to punish Disney with a power grab of his own?

  4. gatorgab97

    Disney will be very embarrassed over what is uncovered. And no court of law will agree with or approve of their illegal actions. They should also be made to pay for all legal and court costs, and pay a heavy civil fine.

  5. Stan

    Funny headline! Who did the power grab?…Mr. D. Who needs to be awake (woke) to advertised public hearings? Nothing sneaky about that🙂

  6. MarlaHughes

    Disney out foxed itself. We aren’t California and our governments have to negotiate land grabs in public. The fact that the old board drew up the agreement with Disney in secret likely doesn’t just make the agreement void but also has the board members facing fines and/or jail time.

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