‘Ron DeSantis just got out-negotiated by Mickey Mouse,’ Donald Trump super PAC chief says

Disney World's state-controlled government board is gearing for a legal fight against The Mouse.

Donald Trump’s team is heating up an attack against Gov. Ron DeSantis over legislation passed reshaping Disney World’s governing district.

“President Trump wrote ‘Art of the Deal’ and brokered Middle East peace. Ron DeSantis just got out-negotiated by Mickey Mouse,” said Trump ally Taylor Budowich, following news that Disney World’s state-picked government board is anticipating a legal battle against Disney after losing some of its power.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis handpicked five new board members to take over the Disney World government. It was payback for Disney speaking out against the controversial Parental Rights in Education law that’s been dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics.

But at Wednesday’s meeting, the new board members said the old board made a 30-year development agreement with Disney just before the state-controlled board took over that stripped them of much of their power.

“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” said board member Brian Aungst Jr., the Orlando Sentinel reported. “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the Governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”

He went on to say, according to WESH, “I can’t think of a more naked attempt to circumvent the will of the voters and the will of the Florida Legislature. … That is offensive to me.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the district is prohibited from using the name “Disney” or any symbols associated with the theme park resort without the company’s permission, nor can it use the likeness of Mickey Mouse, other Disney characters or other intellectual property in any manner. According to the declaration, the company can sue for damages for any violations, and the agreement is in effect until perpetuity.

If the agreement is deemed to violate rules against perpetuity, it will be in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of England’s King Charles III, the declaration said.

Disney World argued it hadn’t done anything wrong in making the agreements.

“All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,” the company said in a media statement.

DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said the agreements could be void.

“The Executive Office of the Governor is aware of Disney’s last-ditch efforts to execute contracts just before ratifying the new law that transfers rights and authorities from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District to Disney. An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law,” she said in a statement. “We are pleased the new Governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney’s past behavior.”

Disney World’s new government board vowed to fight Disney in court and voted to hire a conservative Washington law firm that’s been defending DeSantis’ culture war battles, the Sentinel reported.

Martin Garcia, the board’s new Chair, warned of “protracted litigation” and said he thought the case might go up to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to WESH.

The Orlando Sentinel reported the district’s attorneys said the agreement “allows Disney to build projects at the highest density and the right to sell or assign those development rights to other district landowners without the board having any say.”

It was only the second meeting of Disney World’s government since DeSantis appointed new members and the board’s name was changed from the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Separately, Disney World service workers on Wednesday were voting on whether to accept a union contract offer that would raise the starting minimum wage to $18 an hour by the end of the year.

The agreement covers around 45,000 service workers at the Disney theme park resort, including costumed performers who perform as Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters, bus drivers, culinary workers, lifeguards, theatrical workers and hotel housekeepers.

Workers could see their hourly wages rise between $5.50 and $8.60 an hour by the end of the five-year contract if it’s approved, according to union leaders.

A contract approved five years ago made Disney the first major employer in central Florida to agree to a minimum hourly wage of $15, setting the trend for other workers in the region dominated by hospitality jobs.


The Associated Press contributed to this post. Republished with permission.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Arm The Homeless

    March 29, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    That’s absolutely hilarious, I am sure the Disney attorneys had a lot of fun writing that up.

    It’s even more hilarious that TFG’s PAC just smacked the pudding cup from Gov. Ronny’s shaking hands

  • Lynda

    March 29, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    Good for Disney!! They are smarter than deSantis— or at least their lawyers are. Disney knows they can out wait deSantis because he is gone as soon as he quits to run against trump in the GQP primaries. Of course deSantis will change the “must quit to run” law as soon as he can. The law kept Charlie Crist out of the 2023 House. He would have won his district in a landslide–assuming deSantis didn’t gerrymander him. What a cheat deSantis is!!

  • Running Out of Popcorn

    March 29, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    How about that. RCID outmaneuvered DipSantis in the bright light of day while he and his grifter cronies were making more back alley deals at out expense. Now we will have the privilege of paying multiple $700/hr lawyers with taxpayer money for him to fight this to soothe his ego.

    This guy and his shadow campaign need to be pushed into the light.

    • Jeff

      March 30, 2023 at 12:52 am

      I kind of tend to agree..and I consider myself conservative. This whole thing kind of has big brother written all over it..like why are we going into protracted legal battles with a company that hires a lot of people and gives them an opportunity to work..I get they messed up your dinner shoes one night..but so what..it’s a social issue..we don’t need to go burning down the bridges.

  • Laurel

    March 29, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    When did the voters get a say in any of this? No, the voters were never asked; this was solely a decision made by the governor with NO input from those he “represents” wanted or considered

    • Ocean Joe

      March 30, 2023 at 7:59 am

      Exactly. When you consider how gerrymandered the state legislature is, there is no accountability to the majority of Floridians on anything anymore. The governor is “putting points on the board” for his presidential run that is getting cremated by the bloated grifter who belongs under the prison for Jan 6.

      The whole Disney affair was a temper tantrum by an immature guy with a huge chip on his shoulder who is running wild with a hillbilly legislature turning Florida into Mississippi as quick as he can in order to win the vote of some fat slob in Iowa who gets paid farm subsidies but can’t stand the thought that poor folks are getting food stamps to eat.

    • Rob Desantos

      March 30, 2023 at 11:04 am

      Unfortunately the Florida voters have put enough of these Republican sycophants in office to completely dominate Florida culture for the foreseeable future.

  • Bill

    March 29, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    Love it! A set back for Dictator DeSantis.

  • PeterH

    March 29, 2023 at 7:19 pm

    I agree with Laurel who posted above. The voters of Florida have never approved a referendum to allow our insipid anti-social legislators to speak for us on this important issue!

    Every Republican running for national office has criticized this DeSantis anti-business move.

  • Andrew Finn

    March 29, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA- How ya like that Emperor DeSatan ?????? If you listen carefully you can here the Florida Fuhrer singing a new version of an old classic —- ” I Fought Mouse And The Mouse Won ‘ If he actually thought Disney was going to do nothing and just blindly give up to his tantrum, he must be even dumber than hew appears to be. WAY TO GO DISNEY !!!!!! —— UP YOURS DESATAN !!!!!!

  • St.A.Pete

    March 30, 2023 at 6:24 am

    ““President Trump wrote ‘Art of the Deal’ and brokered Middle East peace.” He ought to be embarassed by the first part and I’m sure people in the Middle East would be suprized to learn the second part.

    • Rob Desantos

      March 30, 2023 at 11:05 am

      And of course Tony Schwartz actually wrote The Art of the Deal.

  • Earl Pitts Anerican

    March 30, 2023 at 7:06 am

    Good morning America,
    I’m currently working with Mickey to turn his life around. I was his Dad’s bestest friend. His Dad, Steamboat Willie, on his deathbed made me take an oath to look out for his little mousketier. Its been tough but Mickey’s beautiful wife Minnie and me, Earl Pitts American, are determined to turn Mickey’s sad and perverted life around. We keep draging Mickey back from his $ex and drug laced partying with the President’s son and sobering him up. We’ve had to use narcan on him countless times litterally bringing him back from dead so many times. When he’s in his almost sober moments Mickey keeps rambeling on about cutting off childern’s genetals and sewing them onto other kids.
    But dont worry America if anyone can turn the lecherous mouse around, get him back in Church, and supporting his countless childern again its his long suffering beautiful wife Minnie and me, Earl Pitts American.
    We do what we do to honor the memory of Mickey’s great heroic father Steamboat Willie. Pray for us please.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts and Minnie Americans

    • MK

      March 30, 2023 at 9:39 am

      I wish flapolitcs had a flag button to keep the conspiracy theorist sickos off of this board.

      • Earl Pitts American

        March 30, 2023 at 9:52 am

        Good morning MK
        Its time for you to check your leftist pea brain and stop de-flowering the honorable name of one of our greatest American Heros, Steamboat Willie American. Be ashamed and do better Son.
        Thank you MK
        Earl Pitts American

        • Rob Desantos

          March 30, 2023 at 11:01 am

          Ok Groomer

  • MK

    March 30, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Yes, thank you Disney. This state has benefited for years from Disney World in Florida and then Facist Ron Desantis roles in and decries he need control of the Mouse. I love the way the GOP is all about business being able to donate as much money as possible to there party yet when Disney cut off the faucet they use there power to punish.

  • Rob Desantos

    March 30, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Brian Aungst Jr is nothing more than a “Nepo Baby” and Desantos crony: all Floridians should be embarrassed by the GOP’s pathetically corrupt behavior.

  • Kevy

    March 30, 2023 at 11:47 am

    Anyone with intelligence knows to read any contract agreements or hire a lawyer before signing it,once sign it,its a done deal, the governor and his so called board knows this,they may have Lamplighted the voters in Florida, but not Disney,,you don’t tug on superman,cape,,you don’t pull the mask off the longe ranger,Disney is every child dream to go to,so much for the new sheriff in town speak when the governor signed the bill

  • Rogparm

    March 30, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    What I find most offensive is Aungst’s comments that this appointed Board was somehow the “will of the voters.” I vote in every election, and I did not see this on any ballot! Hurray for Disney, a truer voice of the voters than anyone on that new board!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn