Wasserman Schultz accuses DeSantis of abusing power, calls for investigation into raid on home of fired Florida data scientist

Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is asking the state’s inspector generals to open an investigation into a raid on the home of fired Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones.

The congresswoman released a scathing statement Wednesday criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis for his alleged role in the raid, calling it an “abuse of power.”

DeSantis came under fire Monday after Jones tweeted a video showing agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at her home to serve a search warrant. According to Jones, the agents said they believed someone used a computer at the home to hack the state’s health department. Jones said they confiscated “all my hardware and tech.”

On Tuesday, Ron Filipowski, a Republican appointed to a commission that recommends judicial appointments to DeSantis announced his resignation on Twitter, calling the raid unconscionable.

Jones had designed and managed the health department’s coronavirus dashboard until her firing in May. Jones claims she was fired because her data was too transparent. DeSantis said she wasn’t a data scientist and was not involved in collating any data. He said she was a journalism major and called her insubordinate. But according to a feature from her alma mater, Syracuse University, Jones was the geographic information systems (GIS) manager for the Florida Department of Health. She had graduated from the school with a Bachelor’s degree in both geography and journalism.

“Gov. DeSantis’ mishandling of the coronavirus in Florida has made him a global laughingstock and has caused so much needless suffering and death in our state. Now, beyond just deadly incompetence, it appears that he 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,” Wasserman Schultz said in the statement.

She called on Florida’s inspectors general to investigate the governor’s alleged “abuse of power” immediately and said her office was exploring “various federal-level investigative options.”

“Our state is in a public health emergency. And rather than use his executive power to protect Floridians, DeSantis abuses it to attack scientists who dare to sound the alarm about Florida’s inept, dangerous response and apparent manipulation of data. That is not leadership; it is autocratic repression,” the congresswoman said.

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