DeSantis-backed Florida tourism board to counter-sue Disney

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board announced Monday that it will counter-sue Disney after the company filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.  Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis last Wednesday, alleging the Republican orchestrated a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” against the company that violates Disney’s free speech rights. Disney is challenging the legality of a new board appointed by DeSantis to govern the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District – where the Walt Disney World resort is located. “Disney sued us, we have no choice now but to respond,” Martin Garcia, chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, said Monday, according to Politico. “The district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where both it and Disney reside and do business.”  The board met Monday morning and passed a motion to take legal action against Disney, which will be filed in state court. Disney’s legal complaint was an escalation of a fight between DeSantis and the company that began last year when the company campaigned to overturn Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Democrats. DeSantis responded by pushing the Florida legislature to strip Disney’s self-governing authority and create a new board, full of his appointees, which now has control over the theme park’s development. That board recently voted to nullify two development contracts Disney signed in February. On Thursday last week, a Florida court issued a summons against DeSantis in relation to Disney’s lawsuit, while the governor was more than 6,000 miles away from the state on a trip to Israel. The summons, which was addressed to the governor’s office in Tallahassee, was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. “A lawsuit has been filed against you,” it says, adding that “[w]ithin 21 days after service of this summons on you (not counting the day you received it)… you must serve on the plaintiff an answer to the attached complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” DeSantis, in Jerusalem last Thursday said “I don’t think the suit has merit.” “They’re upset because they’re having to live by the same rules as everybody else. They don’t want to pay the same taxes as everybody else, and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight,” DeSantis added. “The days of putting one company on a pedestal with no accountability are over in the state of Florida.” Fox News’ Heather Lacy, Jessica Chasmar, Chris Pandolfo, Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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