Rebekah Jones, pictured in her office at the Florida Department of Health, was a COVID-19 data compiler who claims she was fired last May. She announced her bid for the US House of Representatives on Tuesday
A former Florida Health Department official who was fired for allegedly running a disinformation campaign about the state’s COVID-19 response has launched a bid to unseat Matt Gaetz in the US House of Representatives.
Jones couldn’t tweet the announcement herself because Twitter banned her on Monday for violating the sites ‘rules against platform manipulation and spam.’
Saunders tweeted that Jones said the suspension was due to her ‘overzealous’ sharing of a recent @MiamiHerald article and expected her account would be returned shortly.
It didn’t take long for DeSantis to take a victory lap.
His spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, tweeted on Monday, ‘Rebekah Jones was NOT “censored” by Twitter for anything she posted.
‘She was suspended because she broke a clear rule against buying followers (platform manipulation) and — all evidence points to this — hijacking the accounts of unsuspecting users to make them follow her.’
This reportedly accelerated Jones’ announcement timeline. Instead of waiting another month, she said she was taking on Gaetz Tuesday.
‘Didn’t want to announce it this way, but since DeSantis is now taking credit for me getting suspended for sharing an article that proves he’s a sociopathic liar it looks like I have to say it this way,’ Jones wrote through a screenshot reported that Saunders reported.
‘I’m running for Matt Gaetz’s seat next year,’ she said. ‘No more sex traffickers in congress!’
Gaetz, a controversial Republican congressman representing Florida, has made a name for himself as a strong defender of former president Donald Trump (pictured together)
Jones announced her candidacy in a Twitter statement via WPTV reporter Forrest Saunders – after her own Twitter account was suspended
It didn’t take long for DeSantis to take a victory lap. His spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, tweeted on Monday, ‘Rebekah Jones was NOT “censored” by Twitter for anything she posted
Jones was referring to a Justice Department investigation that is looking into allegations that Gaetz paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl.
The age of consent in Florida – where the encounter is said to have taken place – is 18. He denies the allegations.
Jones – a self-proclaimed whistleblower – has been embroiled in her own legal entanglements since she was fired from her state job last May.
Before she was booted from her position as a state health department data scientist, she was credited with leading a team in the creation Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard early on in the pandemic.
Jones claimed she was fired because she refused to manipulate the state’s infection numbers, but DeSantis has said she was fired because of ‘insubordination’.
Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s head of emergency management, told Politico in a story that published Friday that she was leaking information and running a ‘disinformation’ campaign against the state’s COVID-19 response.
Rebekah Jones, was a COVID-19 data compiler for the state of Florida before she was fired last May, plans to run against Republican US Representative Matt Gaetz
‘With a platform of 400,000 Twitter followers, her reputation for bullying people on social media and her running a disinformation campaign that the national media echoed, she was more dangerous as an enemy than a friend,’ Moskowitz told Politico.
Then Jones was arrested in December following a highly publicized search of her home after she was accused of hacking a state-run computer network expert Billy Xiong and ultimately charged with illegally gaining access to a computer system, a felony.
That case is still pending.
She was also fired in 2017 from Florida State University when she was a PhD student and instructor for having an affair with her student. She was charged with three counts of cyberstalking her student Garrett Sweeterman, then 21, in July 2019.
Jones sued her ex-boyfriend in June 2019 in civil court, accusing him of intentionally inflicting emotional distress, sexual battery, domestic violence, emotional abuse and defamation. She abandoned the lawsuit weeks later.
Jones said the 68 pages she was accused of publishing online were excerpts from a longer, 342-page collection of essays she wrote about her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. Those documents were filed in circuit court as part of her civil lawsuit.