DeSantis warns Disney World he'll take a third swing at them after the company wrote in a loophole that collapsed his takeover plan

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  • DeSantis warned that Disney hadn't seen the last of their feud: "There's more to come."

  • On Wednesday, news broke that Disney wrote in a loophole to keep its powers.

  • Soon after DeSantis spoke, Florida's attorney general demanded texts and emails about the district.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida sent a warning shot Thursday to Walt Disney World, just one day after news broke that the governor's move to take over the resort and theme park's governing board is likely toothless.

Bragging about his high-profile dispute with the family-favorite company during a book stop tour in Smyrna, Georgia, DeSantis acknowledged that his moves against Disney were not yet a done deal.

"There's a lot of little back and forth going on now with the state control," DeSantis said, the audience booing at the mention of Disney. "But rest assured — you ain't seen nothing yet. There's more to come in that regard."

Soon after the governor finished his remarks, his office circulated a letter from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office that demanded texts, emails, and other public records from the former board members of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The letter, from Moody's chief of staff James Percival, asked for "documents discussing an intention or goal of circumventing, avoiding, frustrating, mitigatin, or otherwise attempting" to avoid action from DeSantis and Florida lawmakers.

As DeSantis, a rising star in the GOP, has criss-crossed the US promoting his bestselling book, "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival," he has often shared the story about how his administration and the Republican-controlled legislature retaliated against Disney World, Florida's largest private employer.

It's become a main talking point in a book tour that's widely seen as DeSantis introducing himself to voters before mounting a 2024 presidential run.

The dispute began in early 2022 and exploded when DeSantis moved to take away Disney's special tax district. The threat came after the company said it work to repeal the Parental Rights in Education Act, the legislation LGBTQ rights groups and Democrats have derided as "Don't Say Gay," because it limits classroom instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation.

DeSantis worked with the legislature twice to punish the company. First he signed a bill into law in April 2022 to dissolve the Reedy Creek district. But when it was revealed the measure could have resulted in residents taking on a sizeable amount of debt through higher taxes, the legislature sent DeSantis a new bill in February 2023, during a special session, that would allow the governor to appoint a board to control the district.

DeSantis appointed some political allies to the board, which was intended to gut the privileges Disney had for decades, including unique control over its services, ability to issue bonds, and property taxes.

But — as was first revealed Wednesday by the Orlando Sentinel — Disney wrote in a loophole. In early February, it set up an agreement with the district that invoked an obscure property law known as Rule Against Perpetuities, setting the date for it to keep control until "twenty one years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this Declaration."

"This essentially makes Disney the government," Ron Peri, a member of the board, said during a meeting on Wednesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure."

Disney told Insider in a statement that the agreement was "appropriate, and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida's Government in the Sunshine law."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media in the Florida Cabinet following his State of the State address during a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, March 7, 2023, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.
Gov. Ron DeSantis.CHENEY ORR/AFP via Getty Images

The governor-appointed board is talking to lawyers

In his new book, DeSantis has a chapter about the dust-up with Disney and how he retaliated against the company. He even revealed that he and his wife, Casey DeSantis, got married at Walt Disney World — a fact first reported by Insider.

During other book tour stops, he revealed that he agreed to get married there as long as the couple didn't take pictures with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. 

How DeSantis will retaliate against Disney a third time remains to be seen, though members of the board have said they're consulting with four different law firms, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Taryn Fenske, spokeswoman for the governor, said the agreement "may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law."

Bridget Ziegler, a member of the board, predicted on Twitter that the agreement would be "nullified" and said the board "won't back down."

"The media STILL doesn't realize that Governor DeSantis always thinks 10 steps ahead," Christina Pushaw from the governor's rapid response team wrote on Twitter.

Read the original article on Business Insider