DeSantis defends incident involving former health employee: 'It was not a raid'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida reports highest daily COVID-19 cases since January First hearing set for lawsuit over Florida's new anti-riot bill Florida AG tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R) defended the investigation into a former health department employee whose home was searched by authorities, stating that it was not a "raid." 

Rebekah Jones had created the Sunshine State's coronavirus data dashboard, but was fired for what she says was a refusal to "manipulate data." Following her ouster from the health department, Jones reportedly released emails from her supervisors asking her to remove data from the dashboard and take it offline. 

Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement entered the home of Jones with guns raised on Monday and confiscated computer equipment. 

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Jones tweeted footage from the incident, stating, “At 8:30 am this morning, state police came into my house and took all my hardware and tech. They were serving a warrant on my computer after DOH [Department of Health] filed a complaint. They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids.”

When asked about the event on Friday, DeSantis said Jones “became known because she alleged a conspiracy theory,” NBC 6 reported.

“None of the stuff she said was even proven.”

DeSantis also criticized a reporter’s characterization of the incident as a “raid,” according to the news outlet, adding that the officers involved have been “smeared as the Gestapo for their jobs.”

“We have video from Tallahassee PD showing they were very respectful, she was not cooperative,” he said. “It was not a raid, they were serving valid process in accordance with the laws and Constitution of the United States and the state of Florida.”

Jones was under investigation since November after someone hacked the Florida Health Department’s emergency messaging system and sent out a text, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

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The text read “It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.” 

While Jones said she doesn’t know how to hack into computer systems, the source of the text was determined via an IP address associated with her Comcast account.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on Wednesday that Ron Filipkowski, a Republican attorney who was appointed by DeSantis to a judicial nominating commission, resigned his post in protest of the incident.

He told the newspaper that the action was inappropriate, adding that it “really viscerally bothered me.”