TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reaffirmed Friday morning that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s search warrant at the home of the state’s former data scientist who claimed she was wrongly-fired because she wouldn’t manipulate coronavirus data was valid, “done with integrity,” and “followed protocol.”
Following a roundtable discussion on the mental health of first responders, DeSantis took several questions surrounding the controversial search warrant involving Rebekah Jones. The governor referred to Jones as someone who became known after “she alleged a conspiracy theory at the Department of Health, which is unfounded and never proven at all.” He said she was ultimately “fired because she wasn’t doing a good job.”
“There was none of the stuff that she said that was ever proven. You think that would be the end of it, obviously she’s got issues,” he said. “Just because you’re a darling of some corners of the fever swamps, that does not exempt you from following the law.”
In a series of tweets that went viral, Jones said “state police” showed up at her home Monday morning and took “all my hardware and tech.” She said agents were serving a warrant on her computer after the Department of Health filed a complaint.
The complaint was regarding an “unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only,” according to an FDLE spokesperson.
Jones denies she was the one who sent the message.
“I didn’t even know there was a message sent. I didn’t even know what it said until yesterday,” she said.
Jones stated in her tweet that when agents entered her home, they “pointed a gun in my face” and added, “they pointed guns at my kids.”
“Is there anything that the law enforcement did improperly?” DeSantis said. “On this situation, there was an intrusion of a very sensitive system, it’s an emergency alert system. If somebody gets a hold of that, they can do a lot of damage… So, when that happened, the Department of Health did the right thing. They went to law enforcement, they said, ‘We can’t allow this to happen and do an investigation.'”
The governor explained that law enforcement “identified the IP address (from the intrusion), then they did what any investigator would do, they subpoenaed the internet provider. The internet provider provided (her) residence as the IP address that did the intrusion. They got a search warrant, got the devices, and guess what, they’re probably going to be able to match those devices to the intrusion, at which point that’s clearly a felony offense.”
DeSantis defended the FDLE agents involved saying, “these people did their jobs. They’ve been smeared as the Gestapo for doing their jobs. They did a search warrant. Why did they do a search warrant on the house? Because her IP address was linked to the felony. What were they supposed to do? Just ignore it? Of course not. They went, they followed protocol. We actually have video from the Tallahassee PD showing that they were very respectful, she was not cooperative.”
The governor added that the agents served the search warrant “with integrity” and “did it with honor.”
Just days after the search warrant was served, FDLE released full body camera footage of the search warrant to demonstrate the “extreme patience” exercised by the agents, according to FDLE.
During the roundtable discussion, DeSantis announced the state will be allocating more than $23 million to support mental health services system. The funding will come from the CARES Act.
“The effects of the pandemic on mental health have been significant and these funds are an important resource to help Floridians recover from COVID-19.”
DeSantis said this additional funding will allow the state to expand community-based services to enhance the services for both children and adults. These specific services will receive $18 million of the funding.
You can watch the full roundtable discussion in the video player below:
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