Disney lawyers worried about ‘optics,’ disguised their input in last-ditch development deal, emails show

FIRST ON FOX – Lawyers for the Walt Disney Company tried to hide their authorship of a rushed development agreement with a local Florida board that heavily favored the company, according to internal emails reviewed by Fox News Digital. Those emails showed that Disney’s lawyers tried to disguise their involvement in writing the agreement, and were worried about bad “optics” for the company if it was seen as the author. The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) has controlled the land on which Disney World operates, but after criticism about “woke” Disney policies, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis eliminated RCID and created a new board in a bid to exert greater control over the company. Just before RCID was dismantled, it reached a last-minute development deal with Disney aimed at invalidating the state’s push for greater oversight of the area. DESANTIS FIRES BACK AT DISNEY AS COMPANY TRIES TO ‘USURP’ STATE OVERSIGHT Emailed reviewed by Fox News Digital that were also read aloud at a meeting of the new board on Wednesday show that a draft of the agreement that was circulated earlier this year listed Walt Disney World Resort chief counsel John McGowan as the drafter, and that McGowan preferred putting someone else’s name on the draft. “My name is currently at the top of the document as a drafter,” McGowan wrote. “And I am comfortable having my name on it, but from an optics perspective that is not ideal and it would be better to have a non-Disney employee be the drafter.” Subsequent emails show that McGowan’s name was ultimately eliminated from the final draft of the agreement. FLORIDA CFO URGES DISNEY TO ‘MAKE AMENDS’ WITH DESANTIS: ‘YOU DON’T WANT TO PICK A FIGHT WITH THIS GUY’ DeSantis this year signed HB 9-B, a bill that stripped Disney of its self-governance privileges and gave oversight back to the state. The bill replaced RCID with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board (CFTOD), which recently discovered that the prior board had made development plans with Disney just before a new Florida legislation was enacted, giving control of the district’s development rights to Disney, Click Orlando reported. DeSantis said on Monday the last-ditch deal was “designed to usurp the authority of the CFTOD board.” WAR OVER THE CORPORATE KINGDOM: DESANTIS’ NEW BOARD SPARS FOR CONTROL WITH DISNEY “They [Disney] are not superior to the laws that are enacted by the state of Florida,” the governor said during a news conference Monday. “They thought they could create a development agreement that would render everything we did null and void. That’s not going to work, that’s not going to fly.” CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board met on Wednesday to debate the development agreement, and is debating the legality of the last-minute deal done by by the RCID. Fox News Digital’s Emma Colton contributed to this report. 
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