During a press conference earlier this morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his planned appointees to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Here are the named Board Members, who will replace the current Reedy Creek Improvement District Board Members if confirmed by the Florida Senate:
- Bridget Ziegler
- Brian Aungst, Jr.
- Mike Sasso
- Martin Garcia
- Ron Peri
The appointments include donors and loyalists to Ron DeSantis, according to reporting. According to reporting from the Florida Standard, Zeigler helped draft the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill was the spark that set off a series of events that led DeSantis and Florida Republicans to punish Disney for their (eventual) stance against the bill. It was former Disney CEO Bob Chapek that took a stance against the bill after originally intending to remain neutral. Chapek eventually issued an apology to Cast Members after originally not speaking out against a bill that was strongly rebuked by the employees of The Walt Disney Company.
Bridget Zeigler is married to Christian Ziegler, the Florida Republican Party chairman, who will oversee the 2024 elections.
Another appointee was a big donor to DeSantis, according to reporting from Jason Garcia. Martin Garcia, a Sarisota-based attorney, donated $50,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC in 2022 through Pinehill Capital.
Further reporting from Garcia linked Sasso and Peri to a handpicked request by DeSanits’ office to have the two individuals included in the audience of a nationally publicized town hall for DeSantis.
Peri is a former pastor who is now Chairman and CEO of The Gathering USA, which is described as the intersection of faith and culture. Peri previously founded Radixx International, a company that has since been bought out, but one that provided reservation services to airlines.
In total, DeSantis appointed three attorneys, a school board member, and a former pastor and businessman to the newly renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. As drawn up by Florida Republicans, House Bill 9B says that board members must be Florida residents and cannot have worked for a theme park or entertainment complex in the past three years. The proposed board members will need to be confirmed by the Florida Senate, which voted 26-9 in favor of the original bill.
Disney World has said that they don’t plan on fighting the state takeover.
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