Fox News has reported that Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz soundly beat Democratic challenger Rebekah Jones this past Tuesday in Florida’s 1st Congressional District.
However, her election loss is far from being Jones’ biggest problem. As National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke recently noted the defeated candidate is also facing felony charges.
Jones was accused of illegally accessing a government database
Jones is a former Florida Department of Health data analyst, and according to Sarasota’s ABC 7, a judge determined last week that she will go on trial in January for illegally accessing a government database.
Cooke described in a 2021 National Review piece how Jones rose to prominence by claiming to have uncovered evidence that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis manipulated information related to COVID-19.
Specifically, she claimed that her superiors at the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) ordered her to alter figures relating to COVID deaths and case numbers so as to put DeSantis’ pandemic response in a positive light.
Yet while Jones claimed the status of a whistleblower, Florida Inspector General Michael J. Bennett subsequently determined that her contentions were false.
“Based upon an analysis of the available evidence, the alleged conduct, as described by the complainant, did not occur,” Bennett wrote in a 268-page report published this past March.
Media critic says Jones was embraced due to political bias
However, Jones’ allegations about a COVID coverup by DeSantis nevertheless gained widespread media traction, a fact which Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson attributed to partisan politics.
Jacobson told Fox News that the attention given to Jones by CNN and other mainstream media outlets “continued the tradition of treating incredible people as credible based on how damaging their accusations would be to a Republican.”
“In this case, the target was Republican star Governor Ron DeSantis, so anything went,” Jacobson continued, adding, “Now that the story has been exposed as a fable, CNN and other media who hyped the accusations have mostly moved on.”
Cooke pointed out that this is far from being Jones’ first brush with the law, as she escaped conviction after being charged in Louisiana with battery on a police officer by entering into pre-trial intervention.
That came a year after Jones entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement in Florida following a charge of criminal mischief.