Audit Does Not Look Good for Disney Empire

(VitalNews.org) – An in-depth audit into the financial and related affairs of Disney has revealed evidence of some of the worst “corporate cronyism” in American history, according to the report published by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), a board appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year.

The Republican governor set up the CFTOD to replace the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which he dissolved in June 2023. The RCID was formed in 1967, when the Walt Disney company was granted executive powers over the land around the Orlando Disney resort. At Disney’s request, the Florida authorities branded the area as the RCID and handed control over to the entertainment giant.

Under the RCID, Disney’s powers were akin to those of a county governing body. According to the CFTOD report, it could not only hire and fire its own police and fire departments, but it could even build a nuclear power plant in the area, should it have chosen to do so. Despite the many Floridians living within the RCID area, Disney was largely left to its own devices, with very little state oversight.

While the concept of the RCID was promoted as a way to improve the fortunes of the overall district, the report found that Disney ultimately built up a monopoly on various parts of the economy: entertainment, restaurants, hotels, shops and golf courses all became part of the Disney empire, effectively stifling smaller, local businesses.

The report also found evidence of underhanded tactics employed by Disney in order to maintain its status, including paying the property taxes of board members. Disney has denied any wrongdoing and criticized the report as a piece of “revisionist history” that seeks to punish Disney for its opposition to Florida’s HB1557, the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by its critics. The law stopped teachers of children in the third-grade or below from discussing LGBT theories and issues in the classroom. Disney actively and publicly opposed this law, with its CEO Bob Iger claiming that by disallowing teachers from instructing children about gender identity or sexual orientation, the bill would “threaten” LGBT children.

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