Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic has often been questioned and criticized by some within the state, including outspoken and ousted Data Scientist Rebekah Jones, who was fired in May from her job at the Florida Health Department for insubordination. Jones’ has steadfastly claimed that she was fired for refusing to fudge the facts regarding cases and deaths in the state.
Jones then created her own database that has consistently shown different numbers than the state was providing, saying she was a crusader for truth and that the state was not reporting accurately in an effort to gain public support for the Governor’s initiatives to make the economy a priority over trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Then, on December 7 Jones posted on Twitter that her home had been raided by armed officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who answers directly to Governor DeSantis. They took her computers and her phone, accusing Jones’ of a security breach.
WFSU reported, “according to the probable cause affidavit, on Nov. 10, an unidentified person gained access to the department’s StateESF-8.Planning group and sent a message stating, ‘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.’”
Jones has so far not been charged with a crime as a result of the raid, NPR reported. Leon County court records confirm that.
A Republican Criminal Attorney Appointed by DeSantis Quit in Protest of the Raid Which He Said Was Meant to ‘Intimidate & Silence People Inside the Administration’
GOP appointee Ron Filipkowski resigned from his position in Florida after the raid on Rebekah Jones' home.
"I watched the video when she tweeted it out right after the incident… I just couldn't believe what I was seeing… I was just really outraged by the whole situation." pic.twitter.com/B7EQikm849
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) December 9, 2020
Ronald Filipkowski, a lifelong Republican, Marine veteran, and criminal attorney who was appointed by DeSantis and Rick Scott twice as part of The Twelfth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, which helps pick judges, has quit the role after reading the search warrant.
Filipkowski told CNN’s Chris Cuomo the raid on outspoken data scientist Rebekah Jones’ home was “meant to intimidate and silence Miss Jones, but more importantly to intimidate and silence people inside the administration right now.”
In his resignation letter, Filipkowski wrote:
I have been increasingly alarmed by the Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe the policy of this state toward COVID is reckless and irresponsible. I remained in my position because health policy was unrelated to my job on the JNC. However, the recent events regarding public access to truthful data on the pandemic, and the specific treatment of Rebekah Jones, has made the issue now a legal one rather than just medical.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Filipkowski said DeSantis crossed the line.
“This is different because now what you’re doing is using police powers,” he said. “You’re using law enforcement in intimidating people who are trying to tell the truth and now we are crossing over to my whole life as a prosecutor, employer, crusader. This is wrong. He is taking it to a different level.”
Filipkowski told the Tampa Bay Times that he resigned to bring attention “to the plight of the people of Florida who I feel are not being told the truth about COVID.”
DeSantis Denied Knowing Anything About the Raid But Filipkowski Says That’s Virtually Impossible
.@GeoRebekah Jones: "When I found out about the judge being sworn in less than a month before he signed the warrant, and it being one of the first things that he did on the bench appointed by Gov. DeSantis, it became very clear that…he's got his hands all over this." pic.twitter.com/uLDEsxcHU6
— The Recount (@therecount) December 9, 2020
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that “DeSantis had no prior knowledge of the raid, and learned of the search warrant along with everyone else Monday night, spokesman Fred Piccolo said in an email in response to a request for comment from the USA Today Network.”
Filipkowski said the idea of DeSantis not knowing about the raid ahead of time was “fantastical.”
He told Cuomo:
I’m a criminal lawyer. And I couldn’t believe what I was reading in the search warrant about how broad it was about what they were alleging as a supposed crime. And so I was just really outraged by the whole situation and then the final straw was really hearing Governor Desantis’ spokesman, Fred Piccolo, come out and say, you know, he didn’t know anything at all about the raid. He had no knowledge of it, and no one, you know, no one told him anything about it, which I found just to be fantastical, you know, just not credible.
Rebekah Jones has been a thorn in Governor DeSantis’ side for throughout the whole pandemic. I mean, she’s a pretty relatively high profile person in Florida. Most people know who she is and what she’s up to. I can tell you that, you know, she is not his favorite person, right? So FDLE has to know when they’re going to do a raid on her like this, it’s going to make news. It’s going to be big news. So the idea that that a small law enforcement agency like the FDLE— which reports directly to the governor— would do a raid like this on a high profile person without clearing it through the governor’s office right there. There’s just no way.
And Jones is suspicious about how a newly appointed judge was the one to sign the search warrant which Filipkowski called “broad” saying he was doubtful “about what they were alleging as a supposed crime”, telling the Tampa Bay Times, “What’s the crime? The crime is hacking into an email server to tell people to tell the truth? That’s not a horrible crime, if it’s a crime at all.”
Got new info tonight.
The judge who signed the search order of my house was appointed by Governor Desantis and sworn in less than a month before he signed that warrant. In civil court. He's not even a criminal court judge. It was one of his first actions as judge.
— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) December 9, 2020
The warrant was signed by Leon County Circuit Judge Joshua Hawkes who was appointed by DeSantis on September 24, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Jones told CNN, “I found out about the judge being sworn in less than a month before he signed the warrant and it being one of the first things that he did on the bench appointed by Governor DeSantis. It became very clear that despite all of his protesting that he’s got his hands all over this.”
A Recent Investigative Report by the Sun-Sentinel on DeSantis Claimed That ‘The DeSantis Administration Engaged in a Pattern of Spin and Concealment That Misled the Public on the Gravest Health Threat the State has Ever Faced’
Florida’s Sun-Sentinel released a scathing investigative report on December 3 after interviewing more than 50 “scientists, doctors, political leaders, employees of the state health department, and other state officials, as well as more than 4,000 pages of documents.”
The paper’s conclusion after their in-depth investigation:
DeSantis, who owes his job to early support from President Donald Trump, imposed an approach in line with the views of the president and his powerful base of supporters. The administration suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters who supported the governor’s approach to the disease.
Heavy has reached out to Filipkowski to find out more about whether he thinks DeSantis has abused his power, and to DeSantis’s office to ask for his comments on the allegations that he is misleading the public and withholding information.
This article will be updated when and if they reply.
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