TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida voters weighed in on the ballot Tuesday night for the state’s August primary, placing incumbent Republican Matt Gaetz up against former state employee Rebekah Jones in a competition for Gaetz’s current seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jones beat out Peggy Schiller, earning 62.6% of votes. The former state Department of Health employee, who gained attention for questioning data in Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard at the height of the pandemic, had her campaign reviewed prior to the election.
According to the Associated Press, Schiller argued Jones had not met a legal requirement of being a registered Democrat for 365 days before qualifying.
Jones was named as a whistleblower after raising questions about the state’s dashboard and claimed she was fired for exposing problems. The state said she was fired for insubordination after being reprimanded several times, according to the Associated Press.
In Dec. 2020, agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement served a search warrant on Jones’ home.
“FDLE began an investigation November 10, 2020 after receiving a complaint from the Department of Health regarding unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only,” FDLE said in an email to 8 On Your Side.
Gaetz beat out challengers Mark Lombardo and Greg Merk, winning 69.7% of votes.
Like Jones, Gaetz is not without controversy heading in to November. Gaetz is currently under investigation for accusations he had relationship with a 17-year-old, as well as allegedly violating federal sex trafficking laws. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The sex trafficking probe led to a guilty plea by a close friend of Gaetz and former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg.
The U.S. House seat is in District 1 of Florida, which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. The election will take place Nov. 8.