Board members of what was formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District in Orlando, Florida, allegedly spent $2.52 million of taxpayer funds on excursions to Disney World, including tickets and discounts on food, merchandise, and hotels, according to Deadline.
The district was a special governmental body created to govern the land that Disney World owned and operated. According to its website, the board has the same governing authority and responsibility as any other county government.
The Board was recently replaced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as part of his battle against Disney. Now, the new board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has asked the Florida inspector general to investigate expenditures of $2.5 million made by the former board members, who allegedly used taxpayer dollars to purchase passes to Disney World and get discounts on Disney food, merchandise, and hotels.
In a statement, the new board said, “For decades, the former Disney-run RCID used taxpayer funds to provide season passes and amusement experiences to its employees and their family members, cover the cost of discounts on hotels, merchandise, food, and beverages, and give its own board members VIP Main Entrance passes. In 2022 alone, it cost taxpayers over $2.5 million.”
According to the statement, $492,382 was spent on tickets, while $16,837 was spent on merchandise discounts, $4,969 went to food and beverage discounts, and $3,764 went to waterpark discounts, among other expenditures on hotels.
State law caps board member compensation at $100 per month, which raises questions about the purpose and legality of these expenditures.
If these allegations are true, they’re not only a waste of taxpayer money, but also a conflict of interest between Disney and the board that is supposed to oversee them. Public servants need to avoid conflicts of interest both in fact and appearance, and these expenditures present troubling questions of independence.
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