TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Ousted Florida Department of Health employee and COVID-19 dashboard worker Rebekah Jones has announced she intends to run for embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, though she has not formally filed any paperwork to do so.
Jones first made the campaign-related announcement Monday night on her Instagram, following her suspension from Twitter for rules violations. She has reportedly appealed that decision.
Asked by Florida Capitol reporter Forrest Saunders how seriously Jones is taking the anticipated run for office, she reportedly replied: "Taking a human sex trafficker out of Congress? Very interested."
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime amid a federal investigation.
Jones has been a vocal critic of Gaetz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“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 video announcing plans to run.
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 claims.
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."
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