FLORIDA, USA — Rebekah Jones, the former COVID-19 dashboard worker for the Florida Department of Health, has indicated she is running for Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz's seat in Congress, though she hasn't filed the paperwork yet.
She has, however, announced her new campaign website on Instagram.
Jones, who says she is running as an independent, suggests she'll be focused on environmental issues, veterans' access to VA benefits, funding for science and research and education.
Another key issue she's running on: media accountability. On her campaign site, Jones says she wants to make "it easier to hold media who publish defamatory, libelous, slanderous and grossly negligent articles about private citizens and limited public figures accountable."
Jones goes on to say the "issue personally impacted my life in the last year, and I know how helpless an ordinary person can feel when the mainstream media defames and slanders the people."
Earlier this month, Jones made the initial announcement she intended to run for Gaetz's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then, she somewhat walked back that announcement only to launch a site later. Occupy Democrats Executive Editor Grant Stern reports Jones said she'd be filing campaign documents on Friday.
Jones first made headlines in 2020 after being ousted from her role with the state. Following her removal, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement claims Jones illegally accessed a state emergency alert system and sent a mass text message, delivered to roughly 1,750 people. Jones has publicly denied such allegations.
The Nov. 10 message in question urged people "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."
A search warrant was obtained and served at Jones' home in December, to seize her computer equipment and cell phones. Jones, who called the search warrant a "sham," followed with a lawsuit against FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, which she later dropped.
In 2021, an arrest warrant was issued for Jones who turned herself in to police after claiming the warrant was "based on a lie."
A Rebekah Jones for Congress YouTube page posted a video Wednesday, teasing an announcement coming July 30, 2021.
Jones has been a vocal critical of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Gaetz.
“If it takes me going home to Florida to run against Matt Gaetz, then I will do it. If it means getting one child sex trafficker out of office, you’re damn right I’ll do it," Jones said in a previous video indicating plans to run.
Gaetz, who is still in office, has been the subject of accusations he may have had sex with a 17-year-old. He has denied the claims and not been charged with any crimes. He has filed paperwork to run again.
- Jurors to consider life or death for Ronnie Oneal III
- TGH seeing more young unvaccinated people in ICU
- Oath Keeper pleads guilty in Jan. 6 attack; will cooperate
- Lightning look to punch ticket Wednesday to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals
- A Frank Conversation: New podcast explores race, religion, politics and more
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter