In a recently disclosed independent audit, startling revelations surfaced regarding Disney’s extensive governance within Florida, painting a picture of corporate control that extended for more than five decades. The audit, obtained by The Daily Wire, scrutinized the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), established in 1966 to lure Disney’s business to the state, ultimately granting the entertainment giant formidable authority.
The report highlighted how Disney utilized the RCID to consolidate control, a move characterized as a “shocking” display of corporate cronyism and a departure from Florida’s governance standards. Allegations emerged that Disney manipulated the district, handpicking officials and employing strategies to sidestep taxation while burdening neighboring taxpayers with costs.
Professor Donald Kochan of George Mason Law School, one of the auditors, exposed Disney’s purported deception in securing control over the RCID. Kochan contended that Disney’s original promise to construct a city around a theme park, inclusive of community services and housing, was quickly abandoned in favor of establishing Disney World, solely catering to tourists with no residential provisions.
The audit emphasized Disney’s aversion to public oversight, noting the company’s efforts to avoid accountability through elections. The RCID’s board composition, controlled by Disney, allegedly led to a structure where decisions were aligned with the corporation’s interests, potentially fostering corruption.
“Most egregious exhibition of corporate cronyism in modern American history”https://t.co/KSflQoenqe
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) December 4, 2023
Financial discrepancies were also brought to light, suggesting improper handling of district employees. Allegations of perks and benefits akin to bribes provided by Disney to RCID employees were flagged, with attempts to evade taxation on these benefits drawing criticism.
The report underscored the detrimental impact of Disney’s governance on surrounding communities, emphasizing the lack of essential services like housing, schools, and hospitals within the district, shifting the burden onto neighboring areas.
While acknowledging Disney’s positive regional influence, the audit concluded that the corporation could have contributed similarly without assuming such extensive control over the RCID.
Following Governor Ron DeSantis’s dissolution of Disney’s control over RCID, recent legislative efforts aim to reinstate the district. However, concerns linger over the transparency of the newly established Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, prompting debates over governance structures.
Disney’s last-minute agreements with RCID face legal challenges from the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, indicative of the corporation’s determined stance in preserving its control.
The report’s authors anticipate resistance from Disney, characterizing the corporation’s reluctance to relinquish authority as expected, considering its prolonged dominance within the district.