Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a number of conservatives to oversee the special tax and governance district previously managed by Disney.
Florida lawmakers created a special economic zone for Disney called the Reedy Creek Improvement District in 1967, reportedly saving the company tens of millions of dollars each year in taxes and fees. Legislation signed by DeSantis on Monday established a new state-controlled administrative region called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
Among the five individuals DeSantis appointed to the board is Bridget Ziegler, a conservative member of the Sarasota School Board and the husband of Christian Ziegler, who recently won election to serve as the chair of the Florida Republicans. Bridget Ziegler is a co-founder of Moms for Liberty, according to a report from Fox Business; the activist organization seeks to empower “all that have a desire to stand up for parental rights at all levels of government” by training conservatives to run for school boards. It also works with Gays Against Groomers.
The appointment is especially noteworthy given the fact that DeSantis moved to strip Disney of its special privileges last year after the company publicly opposed a parental rights law that prohibits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity to children between kindergarten and third grade. Some 64% of Americans supported the law, including 62% of Democrats and 57% of independents, according to an exclusive poll from The Daily Wire.
The other conservatives DeSantis appointed include Martin Garcia, an attorney and businessman; Ron Peri, a former pastor and aviation technology executive; Brian Aungst Jr., an attorney and previous appointee to the Sixth Circuit judicial nominating commission; and Michael Sasso, an election law attorney and trustee of Valencia State College.
The overhaul of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and nomination of conservative officials comes weeks after DeSantis similarly appointed several conservatives to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees with the hope that the public liberal arts school would eliminate controversial ideologies. Among the appointees were Christopher Rufo, a fellow with the Manhattan Institute and an activist who has vocally opposed critical race theory, and Matthew Spalding, a constitutional government professor at Hillsdale College.
The bill ending the Reedy Creek Improvement District passed the Florida House 82-31 and the Florida Senate 26-9; both chambers have robust Republican majorities after the party swept the state’s midterm elections. “Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes.”
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Disney CEO Bob Iger recently lamented that the entertainment conglomerate lost special regulatory and tax privileges, vowing that the company would more carefully listen to consumers. “I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea exactly what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself,” the veteran executive said in leaked footage. “What I can say is that the state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.