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Rebekah Jones. Image via Rebekah Jones.

Coronavirus in Florida

‘Not even a data scientist’: Governor slams dispatched Rebekah Jones

DeSantis went on offense against a controversial ouster.

Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t know who Rebekah Jones was Tuesday afternoon when reporters asked him for comment on her firing.

But by Wednesday afternoon, the Governor offered an authoritative prosecution of the case for firing Jones, who had worked on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, with cause.

DeSantis disparaged her, saying she’s “not even a data scientist … not involved in collating data, she lacks the expertise to do that. She is not an epidemiologist. She is not the chief architect of our web portal, that’s another false statement.”

The Governor noted that she had a history of bucking superiors in her recent duties.

“What she was doing was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn’t believe was valid data,” DeSantis said. “So she didn’t listen to the people who were her superiors. She had many people above her in the chain of command.”

The Governor also threw some mud, noting that she faced criminal charges for cyberstalking and sexual harassment.

“She should have been dismissed long before that,” DeSantis said. “I’ve asked the Department of Health to explain to me how someone could be charged with this and carry on.”

The blistering statements continue a narrative, advanced by the Governor’s Office and press allies, that Jones’ firing was warranted despite a hue and cry from Democrats who accused him of data suppression.

The Governor’s head spokesperson, Helen Aguirre Ferre, bashed Jones Tuesday for a “repeated course of insubordination during her time with the Department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.”

“The blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website was harmful to the team,” Ferre added. “Having someone disruptive cannot be tolerated during this public pandemic, which led the Department to determine that it was best to terminate her employment.”

Meanwhile, a dossier of information about the jilted Jones appeared, in article form, on the conservative Capitolist website, where the administration’s argument got a sympathetic hearing.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. GoAwayPlease

    May 20, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Based upon her own statements, Ms. Jones does not appear credible. She gave herself credit for creating a computer database where everyone could easily see all the virus statistics.

    She then says she was fired because they were “hiding” things from the public.

    She can’t have it both ways, and does not sound credible.

    Only the biased media, would make an issue out of this, and make it appear that she is a poor little whisleblower, who was just trying to save us all.

    • Tjb

      May 20, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Looks like they are discrediting her because the DeSantis’ machine got caught attempting to manipulate the numbers, she was being forced to change the numbers.

      • Methinks

        May 21, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        She would be less easy to discredit if she weren’t obviously lying.

  2. Amy Roberts

    May 20, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Ms. Jones is a Whistleblower and deserves those protections, not disparaging career damaging remarks. Again the Governor shows he’s not the person for the job.

  3. Frankie M.

    May 20, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    If you believe that smear job you probably believe Edward Snowden was a high school dropout who just happened to have access to the country’s most sensitive information. Sounds like Ms. Jones is getting “snowed in” by Ronnie’s propaganda machine. (See what I did there?) The only thing Ronnie is doing by flinging mud is ensuring a wrongful termination suit with a bigger payout for Ms. Jones which the taxpayers will have to bear. Quick! Someone get Hank Coxe on the phone.

    • Methinks

      May 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      I hope she sues. That way we’ll find out what really happened. I doubt she will, though, because it’s likely that she was fired for a perfectly legitimate cause. She’s not an epidemiologist or any other kind of public health expert and calls on data (likely causes of death) are not her calls to make. She simply wouldn’t have access to the information nor does she have the medical background to make those calls. These are responsibilities of public health officials, medical examiners, doctors, and epidemiologist. So, she wouldn’t have been in a position to refuse to make adjustments to health data, which is why her claims are dubious at best.

  4. Nick Whitehead

    May 20, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Like his mentor and master Donald Trump, the Governor takes exceptional glee in attacking female whistleblowers. Sparing no effort to obfuscate the truth is a defining hallmark of both administrations.

  5. ORANGEMANBAD

    May 21, 2020 at 8:44 am

    So you guys find a person charged with robbery, battery on a police officer, stalking etc.., whose linkedin profile is full of exaggerations… she’s your credible whistleblower for what? What is the big crime? She was asked by her superiors to disable a columnn for a day and a half. There’s lots to criticize the Governor for, but this personnel decision is not it.

    • Edward Freeman

      May 22, 2020 at 3:26 am

      The Governor of Florida should be above personal attacks on former employees.  Had he not attacked her, this entire episode would be several news cycles old and likely forgotten about by now. I don’t know if her accusations are legitimate or not.  I have heard people who know more about the subject than I do say that if they are true then it is a problem.  So, I do think it should be investigated further.

  6. BILL NELSON

    May 21, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I HATE RON DESANTIS. I WISH HIM AND HIS CRONY RICK SCOTT THE WORST.

    • Just sayin'

      May 21, 2020 at 10:11 am

      Bill, you lost, buddy. Let it go. Be content in the fact that despite serving a lifetime in public service, nobody remembers anything notable that you ever did. Sure, no achievements at all, but no scandals either. Go gently into that good night, dreaming of the stars.

      • Amy Roberts

        May 21, 2020 at 7:02 pm

        Just because the name is Bill Nelson and there are loads of Bill Nelsons, doesn’t mean it’s Senator Bill Nelson, check yourself.

  7. DisplacedCTYankee

    May 21, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Re that “Bill Nelson” comment. Doesn’t anybody monitor these comments? I know the former senator and he does NOT type in ALL CAPS.

    Maybe I should start posting as REALDONALDTRUMP

  8. Edward Freeman

    May 22, 2020 at 3:27 am

    The Governor of Florida should be above personal attacks on former employees.  Had he not attacked her, this entire episode would be several news cycles old and likely forgotten about by now. I don’t know if her accusations are legitimate or not.  I have heard people who know more about the subject than I do say that if they are true then it is a problem.  So, I do think it should be investigated further.

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