State police agents on Monday raided the home of a former Florida Department of Health employee who helped build the state’s first Covid-19 dashboard.
Rebekah Jones was fired earlier this year after complaining that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration was manipulating Covid-19 data to make the virus appear less prevalent as the governor pushed to reopen Florida’s economy.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Jones posted a tweet showing video of armed police entering her home.
Jones’ Twitter post alerted followers that she would not have an update on a new Covid-19 website she established following her firing from the health agency in May, because state agents had seized her computer and phone.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Monday’s raid in a prepared statement provided to The News Service of Florida.
The video posted by Jones shows officers brandishing guns and telling Jones to exit her Tallahassee home. The video also shows a law enforcement officer yelling at Jones’ husband to “come down the stairs now.”
Jones can be heard saying in a high-pitched voice, “He just pointed a gun at my children.”
According to the statement provided by FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger, FDLE launched an investigation on Nov. 10 after receiving a complaint from the health department that someone at Jones’ residence illegally accessed a state emergency-alert messaging system.
In an attempt to “minimize disruption to the family,” Plessinger said that agents knocked on the door at Jones’ home and called her phone.
“Ms. Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on agents. After several attempts and verbal notifications that law enforcement officers were there to serve a legal search warrant, Ms. Jones eventually came to the door and allowed agents to enter,” the statement said. “Ms. Jones’ family was upstairs when agents made entry into the home.”
In a subsequent Twitter post, Jones accused the DeSantis administration of sending the “gestapo” after her.
“This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak truth to power,” Jones tweeted, adding that she would have “a new computer tomorrow” and that she would get back to work on her website.
“If DeSantis thought pointing a gun in my face was a good way to get me to shut up, he’s about to learn just how wrong he was,” she wrote.
Monday’s raid is the latest confrontation between Jones and the agency where she once worked.
Jones once served as the geographic information systems manager in the health department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection. She told Florida Today in May that she was fired for refusing to manipulate Covid-19 data.
The story made national headlines and top Florida Democrats called for an investigation.
But DeSantis downplayed Jones’ role in developing the health department’s Covid-19 online dashboard, saying she isn’t an epidemiologist and accusing her of insubordination.
The administration also brought to the media’s attention criminal charges that had been filed against Jones last year.
A review of Leon County court documents shows that Jones was charged in July 2019 with two counts of cyberstalking and one count of sexual cyber harassment. According to court records, one of the cases Jones is still open.
Jones filed a whistleblower complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations in July.
–Christine Sexton, News Service of Florida
David S. says
DeSantis is at it again. He said he new nothing it’s obvious that the trump wantabe is lying…..
Just sayin says
Where was CNN on this raid. Roger Stone got the same treatment in South Florida and no outrage there.
Jeff Sica says
Since when is CNN a law enforcement agency? Stone got the same treatment because he’s a complicit and potentially treasonous lunatic in Trump’s orbit…one of many who’ve already been convicted. History, and hopefully the law, will show that DeSantis, Trump and many others in this clown show of an administration are guilty of various crimes against the Constitution!
I’m also curious as to the status of Jones’ whistle-blower complaint. Buried by DeSantis’ administration, no doubt.
Here is video of 12 FBI agents raiding Stones home. Good liberal NPR even fact checked the raid and said it was conducted properly. According to their facts of how to conduct a raid, the one at MRS Jones’ house was by the book.https://www.npr.org/2019/02/01/690305364/fact-check-did-the-fbi-use-unusual-force-when-it-arrested-roger-stone If Trump did not pardon him, I heard they were going sentence him to a nursing home in NYC
The best part of the story is her previous arrests in 2019. two counts of cyberstalking and one count of sexual cyber harassment. Things that make you say What the ****. Husband and kids at home.
Not sure where you going with the crimes against the Constitution. What article and section?
This armed police harassment is nothing short of an outrageous and horrific attempt at political intimidation! De Santis should certainly be held accountable if he had any hand in this at all. I sincerely hope the ACLU steps in and calls for an investigation/ civil suit! It appears DeSantis is following trump’s lead with such bullying tactics. If so, he should be thrown out of office by a recall election . . . but, of course he will not be. . . not by the Republican controlled legislature here.
Bill C says
This is banana republic stuff.
Michael Cocchiola says
We got rid of Trump. Next in line is DeSantis.
David Schaefer says
He wont get my Vote. Most pleasurable for me to Elect a real Governor not a lap dog to a Facist lackey.
Mary Katherine Kelly says
YES, I agree.
Only Me says
The State Prosecutor in Miami was on the news this week and reported how Ron DeSantis has lied and hide actual reports on the virus spreading in the State of Florida. DeSantis follows anything his idol Donald Trump does and look how he failed the USA on this deadly virus and continues to do so.
I thought they took an Oath of Office to protect the people for which they serve, and because that isn’t happening neither one should be or ever be in public office.
Ron DeSantis continues to fail the State of Florida and he should be held accountable for not protecting its residents and the visitors that come to Florida instead of just following what Donald Trump tells him. He needs to stand up like an adult and do the job people elected him to do.
The Voice Of Reason says
desantis, he’s the one who should be investigated. He has blood on his hands. trump’s lackey. Incompetent, corrupt response to covid. Censorship of public health information regarding covid. Hide the truth to justify reopening our underachieving economy. Sacrifice peoples lives to open up Florida’s minimum wage economy. This poor women, (Ms Jones), who’s courageous fight to be truthful results in her being fired, harassed and has guns pointed at her and her family. Talk about jack booted thugs. desantis makes me want to vomit. It’s sadly amazing the garbage that gets elected in this backwards state. scott, desantis, rubio are a smelly collection of reptilian losers that are poster boys of the rancid, rapidly decaying republican party. They make me sick.
Robin KG says
I could not agree more with your comments. Unfortunately the state of Floriduh with its poorly educated electorate keeps voting in the sleaziest slimeball republicans they can find. Truly disgusting. And now with this pathetic attempt to silence the truth they have terrorized Ms. Jones and her family. I truly hope justice prevails and Desantis and his ilk are removed from office.
If the State of Florida has uneducated voters, I would have to fault a lot of northern states as the bulk of voters in Florida are not from there.
‘When DeSantis discussed Jones’ firing in May, he referenced the alleged stalking case, saying “she should have been dismissed long before.”‘
That’s funny Don … errrr .. I mean Ron. I’ve been thinking the same thing about you.
BTW, Ronnie, are you making plans to move the Florida State Capitol to Mar-a-Lago? That way, you could be closer to your BFUIDWH (Best Friend Until I disagree With Him).