Rebekah Jones fundraises to appeal CD 1 ballot removal
The off-again, on-again candidate.

jones, rebekah - testifying
Jones isn’t letting Friday’s court ruling deter her fundraising efforts.

Rebekah Jones was removed from the 1st Congressional District ballot, but that hasn’t stopped her from requesting donations to fund a legal appeal.

Following a complaint from her Democratic Primary opponent, Leon Circuit Court Judge John Cooper on Friday disqualified Jones from running because she had not been a registered Democrat for 365 days before qualifying as a candidate for Congress. In a fundraising email with the subject “We need your help to get rid of Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis,” the former Department of Health (DOH) data curator called on supporters to help pay for the high legal fees to continue her congressional campaign, in which she hopes to unseat Gaetz.

“The legal costs associated with combating this Russian-style attempt to block my campaign, which is the last desperate attempt of a terrified governor, congressman and party who knows they cannot win this election at the ballot box, are high,” the Jones campaign wrote. “We’re appealing this egregious decision, but we need your help.”

Court records don’t yet show an appeal. However, Jones’ attorney, Ben Kuehne, suggested during Friday’s hearing that the Jones camp would file an appeal.

Spending campaign funds on legal expenses is an appropriate use of funds.

The decision made Jones the latest candidate undone by a new Florida law requiring long-standing and consistent membership of a political party. Republican Ashley Guy dropped out of a state House race this year over similar concerns, as did Democrat Curtis Calabrese from a South Florida open congressional race.

Republican Austin Brownfield was also booted by a Pinellas County judge from a state House race because he was registered without party affiliation a year ahead of qualifying. Cooper cited the ruling in issuing his own determination about Jones.

Peggy Schiller, Jones’ Democratic Primary opponent, sued in Leon County Circuit Court to throw Jones from the ballot. Schiller’s attorney, Juan-Carlos Planas, a former state Representative, argued in court that Jones cannot run because of the new state law requiring candidates to be a member of a party for a year ahead of qualifying as a candidate.

During her testimony, Jones argued that outside individuals fraudulently sent in the paperwork to change her status as a Maryland voter. Jones also calls Schiller a sham candidate.

“All the polls and media agreed we were poised to defeat the incumbent Congressman, currently embroiled in a number of controversies, including the ongoing FBI investigation into sex trafficking,” Jones wrote in her campaign email.

Pollsters at the left-leaning Listener Group have shown Jones within striking distance of Gaetz. However, that poll is largely considered an inaccurate reflection of the race.

FiveThirtyEight has given Gaetz a more than 99 in 100 chance of winning re-election. With Jones on the ballot, the site had Gaetz leading by 27 percentage points, but that lead grew to 38 points after Jones was disqualified.

The embattled congressional candidate rose to prominence in May 2020, when she was fired from DOH for “insubordination.” Jones accuses DeSantis and DOH of firing her for “refusing to manipulate” COVID-19 data. Jones’ claims are so far unsubstantiated.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


5 comments

  • Joe Corsin

    August 7, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    – Vote RED for election crimes while claiming the opposition is stealing the election
    – Vote RED for fascism and anti-government terrorists
    – Vote RED for religious law and religious police
    – Vote RED for Taliban Sharia
    – Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies!!!!

  • just sayin

    August 8, 2022 at 7:53 am

    This woman is a Trump-level grifter. Simpletons like Joe C. have let her live the high life for some time now. The judge did y’all a favor.

  • It's Complicated

    August 8, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Folks who understand Florida Election Law were well-aware that Jones could not qualify in the Summer of 2021, when she was waffling about running for the FL-1 seat. Surely she knew! It pays to hire a knowledgable consultant early in the game if you plan to run for public office. Makes me wonder if she is just doing the political grifter thing to raise more sympathy money from Gaetz haters. If so, she is effectively taking funds out of the races of actual candidates.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 12, 2022 at 10:59 am

    It seems un-American and unconstitutional to not have freedom to run in a political party of your choice. What if the law said “a candidate must be a member for the previous 25 years”? Wouldn’t that invite special interests to rule party structures against individual citizens. Our two party system, in essence- no problem, planks shift slowly over time like molasses because public sentiment shifts slowly under normal times, but what about sudden awakenings? Why not be able to change parties overnight to align with ones new understandings? In a two party existence, running independent is like carrying two jockeys around the horse track, one would have to be Secretariat to win. There is a U.S. Constitutional framework and using political party bi-monopoly membership at State Houses to thwart participants is participation is beyond the pale.

    • Matt Lusk

      August 12, 2022 at 11:02 am

      In Our two party system.

      participants in participation.

Comments are closed.


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