A FBI affidavit has seemingly revealed that an employee of a fairly influential company could be one of the key participants pulling the strings on the city of Anaheim’s government, and sources claim that this power broker is a person that works at Disney.
“The employee of the firm, called ‘Company A’ in the affidavit that’s part of a federal public corruption probe, helped script a statement read by an elected official before the City Council voted to issue bonds and provided input on whom to invite to a covert retreat for community powerbrokers,” reported the L.A. Times.
As per the sources alluded to by the outlet, who are purportedly familiar with the investigation being conducted by the FBI, ‘Company A’ is actually Disneyland Resort, and the identity of the employee is Carrie Nocella, Director of External Affairs at Disneyland Resort.
Interestingly, the L.A. Times reports that neither Disneyland Resort nor Nocella have been accused of wrongdoing, in spite of Anaheim activists and an unnamed past mayor claiming that Disneyland Resort has “parlayed its influence into lucrative tax breaks at the expense of city residents.”
Councilman Jose Moreno said that Disneyland actively influencing Anaheim’s role, in terms of city politics, “would be the worst kept secret in town,” noting that people paying attention are well-aware of the situation.
According to the media outlet, the resort has also “bankrolled friendly politicians with generous campaign donations,” although without disclosing who these politicians are.
The Los Angeles Time reached out to Disney to clarify information about the alluded ‘Company A’ amidst the corruption scandal. “We have seen media reports of the complaint and no authorities have reached out to us about it,” declared the company in an official statement issued to the publication.
The publication also notes that Carrie Nocella has declined to comment on the allegations. Further, the Director of External Affairs at Disneyland Resort has reportedly deleted both her Facebook and Instagram accounts last week as the corruption controversy unfolded.
The affidavit was written by FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins, who accused Former Head of Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Todd Ament, in a 99-page criminal complaint, of “lying to a mortgage lender about his assets while seeking a loan for a $1.5 million home in the San Bernardino Mountains.”
According to the legal document, Ament, one unnamed political consultant, and a ‘Company A’ employee, allegedly Nocella, used their influence to script statements made by an anonymous elected official at an Anaheim City Council Meeting.
The L.A. Times also notes that Disneyland Resort has been benefitting from its relationship with the government of Anaheim, bringing forward an agreement made in 1996 that stipulated city leaders were to “issue $510 million in bonds to finance, among other projects, construction of the $108-million Mickey & Friends parking structure.”
Further, the outlet mentions that “The resort keeps the parking revenue, and Anaheim will transfer ownership of the garage to Disney once the bonds and $1.1 billion in interest are paid off.”
Additionally, in June of 2015 Anaheim’s five-member City Council voted 3-2 to approve The Walt Disney Company’s 30-year renewal proposal of tax exemption for visitors to its Disneyland Resort, preventing the city from making an estimated $1 billion in revenue.
The agreement stipulated that Disney needed to deliver on their promise to complete $1 billion in development at the resort by the end of 2024, which included the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion, and could apply for an additional 15-year extension if the company spent an additional $500 million.
At the time Disney declared that the exemption was justified, considering that the company accounted for an estimated 28,000 local jobs as the city’s largest employer, as well as the economic benefit Anaheim derived from the resort.
In 2018, Disneyland Resort President Josh D’Amaro asked Anaheim officials to cancel the 45-year tax exemption, as well as a 20-year, 70 percent hotel bed tax refund.
The Walt Disney Company’s fairly unusual request came amidst a union-funded petition for a ballot measure that sought to require all businesses in Anaheim’s Resort District to pay a minimum wage of $18 an hour by 2022.
In November of 2021, however, Orange County Superior Court Judge William D. Claster ruled that Disneyland and its contractors are not subject to Anaheim’s $18 an hour minimum wage increase for workers.
What do you make of the claims that a Disney employee may be a key participant in Anaheim’s corruption scandal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below or on social media.