According to a new report, a Florida data scientist who claimed she was fired for refusing to manipulate the state’s COVID-19 data never had access to the raw information.
Rebekah Jones, 31, became the darling of the liberal media over the summer when she accused Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of trying to cover up the true scale of the pandemic, and was a face frequent in magazines and on cable.
Jones was fired in May 2020 and described herself as a whistleblower and created her own website to rival that of the Florida Department of Health – although both use the same data.
On Thursday, however, journalist Charles CW Cooke claimed in The National Review that Jones never had access to the raw data he was allegedly told to manipulate. He said she was just downloading the information from the website.
Jones called Cooke’s report a “smear campaign” against her.
Rebekah Jones, 31, was fired in mid-May 2020 from her job at the Florida Department of Health
Jones called The National Review’s report a “smear campaign” and denied the criminal charges
Jones accused Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, of presiding over a cover-up
She was arrested in January on one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices, and is currently awaiting trial.
Jeb Bush, the former presidential candidate and former governor of the state, tweeted a link to Cooke’s article.
“Thank you, Mr. @JebBush, for drawing attention to how smear campaigns targeting whistleblowers reach all levels of the political hierarchy, from the rise to the fallen, mainstream and insignificant, Desantises and even Jebs,” she replied.
Cooke further claims that Jones was not fired for refusing to manipulate data, but rather for misconduct.
He obtained her personnel file from the Ministry of Health, which showed that as early as April she was vehemently contradicting the ministry on Facebook and giving frequent interviews to the media.
Jones is seen in her booking photo when she visited in January
Jones was briefly detained, then released on January 15 pending trial
Jones, after losing his job, then created a rival website for the state’s official COVID dashboard
In June, Jones confirmed his own website was using the same data as the state health department.
His supervisors asked him to stop.
They repeatedly expressed concern, and she was placed under special management supervision, in an effort to save her job.
For a while it worked, but on May 7, 2020, she changed the design of the data site to become the sole admin.
“This created unnecessary delays in dashboard updates over the next few days until all content was properly moved and layers properly recreated,” its supervisors wrote in the file.
“This change, without my approval, directly disobeyed my instructions the day before.
“Because the team was not informed, the team started to fix the problem as if it was a system problem.”
Jones was removed as an administrator from the dashboard.
On May 15, she sent an email to everyone on the mailing list, including some external people, “stating that she was no longer assigned to the dashboard, which I believe cast doubts on the integrity going forward as she indicated she was removed because she wouldn’t handle the data.
“This email caused an immediate influx of media inquiries,” its filing says.
Jones was fired in mid-May.
On November 10, a message was sent to all his former colleagues urging them to “talk up” about COVID.
“It is time to speak out before another 17,000 people die. You know it’s wrong. You don’t have to be part of it. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late,” the message read.
Jones was accused of using old login credentials to gain “unauthorized access” to an employee messaging platform to send the group text.
Jones’ home was raided on December 7 by Florida law enforcement (pictured)
Jones is suing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over the raid, calling it excessive
On December 7, Florida law enforcement obtained a warrant to search his home in Tallahassee, on the grounds that Jones had illegally accessed the system by messaging approximately 1,750 people and had downloaded confidential FDOH data and recorded them on his devices.
The warrant also alleges Jones downloaded and saved health department data – containing contact information for approximately 19,182 people in the state of Florida’ – onto his own devices and unsuccessfully tried to access it again. the messaging platform on November 12.
She claimed police brandished guns and terrified her family, but video footage of the incident obtained by the Tampa Bay Times showed an orderly seizure of her electronics, with no guns.
According to Jones, Florida investigators “found no evidence” related to the incident that officials say sparked the raid: a chat message that was sent to a planning group on an internet platform. emergency alert, urging people to speak out publicly about Florida’s coronavirus strategies.
She wrote on Twitter after the raid, “Police found documents I received/downloaded from sources in the state, or something of that nature.”
She has maintained her innocence and is suing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for “terrorizing” her family and violating her First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
She turned herself in to law enforcement on January 18, after an arrest warrant was issued.
She is awaiting trial on $2,500 bond, on the condition that she have no contact with any of the people whose personal information was allegedly uploaded and no contact through Florida state computer systems. The judge ruled against GPS monitoring and internet bans, which the state had requested.