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Congresswoman calls for investigations following raid at home of Florida data scientist

Virus Outbreak Congress
Posted at 1:56 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 15:56:40-05

A Florida Congresswoman is asking her state’s inspector generals to open an investigation into a recent raid on the home of a fired data scientist. This is the latest in growing criticism of the raid.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement Wednesday saying Governor Ron DeSantis “has chosen to abuse Florida’s law enforcement and judicial systems to persecute Rebekah Jones, a scientist who dared to critique his oft-maligned and suspect COVID-19 data.”

“The governor’s abuse of power must be investigated immediately by Florida’s relevant inspectors general,” Schultz went on to say.

Jones created the state’s original COVID-19 informational dashboard. DeSantis decried Jones’ work, which boiled into a public spat between the two. Jones claimed that DeSantis did not want health officials to be transparent about the spread of the virus.

She has since created her own website with information of Florida’s coronavirus cases, hospital load and deaths.

She shared a video earlier this week showing officers coming to her home on Monday, they were seen with guns drawn and yelling for Jones’ husband and kids to come out of the house.

During the raid, Jones said that officers seized her computer equipment. On Twitter, Jones said she would replace her computer and continue to update her COVID-19 tracking website.

According to an affidavit from Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement, the state’s public health department had sent a notice to law enforcement as part of an investigation over unauthorized access to a state messaging system.

The affidavit claims that an unidentified subject accessed a group tied to the state's emergency alert system on November 10. The subject sent a group text saying "it's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don't have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it's too late."

The affidavit claims that the IP address where the message originated came from a computer at Jones' address in Tallahassee.

Schultz said her office was “exploring various federal-level investigative options.”

On Tuesday, Ron Filipkowski, the commissioner and vice-chair of the 12th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, tweeted to USA Today's Grace Pateras that he had resigned his position because of what happened with Jones.

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