Governor Ron DeSantis weighed in for the first time on the search warrant that was issued on Monday against fired Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee Rebekah Jones.
Appearing at a mental health roundtable in Tampa on Friday, DeSantis commented on the controversy for the first time, saying that Jones lied about her termination and was fired because of insubordination.
“This individual [Jones] became known because she alleged a conspiracy theory at the Department of Health — which is unfounded, never proven at all. She was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job,” DeSantis told reporters alongside his wife Casey DeSantis. “None of the stuff that she’s said was ever proven. You’d think that would be the end of it; obviously, she’s got issues.”
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officers executed a search warrant Monday at Jones’ home in Tallahassee. After Jones refused to comply for 20 minutes, police were eventually let it. Agents then seized computer equipment — as part of an ongoing investigation — that was used to hack the Department of Health.
The clash made national headlines after Jones set up a web camera facing the door and published the confrontation on Twitter. The video shows officers entering the home and alerting her that they have a “search warrant” before escorting Jones out of the residence. The 30-second clip also shows law enforcement telling Jones’ to “calm down” and telling her husband to “come down the stairs.”
DeSantis called the hack an “intrusion of a sensitive system” and said that somebody getting ahold of that “could do a lot of damage. The Governor continued, saying DOH did the right thing contacting authorities.
“On this situation, there was an intrusion of a very sensitive system — it’s an emergency alert system,” DeSantis said. “If somebody gets hold of that, they could do a lot of damage. I mean, you could really frightened a lot of elderly people, other vulnerable populations. So when that happened, the Department of Health did the right thing.
DeSantis also criticized media outlets for labeling the execution of the warrant as a “raid.”
“It’s not a raid!” DeSantis ripped into a reporter. “I’m not gonna let you get away with it. These people did their jobs. They’ve been smeared as the Gestapo for doing their jobs.”
Before concluding the press conference, DeSantis said the IP address used to illegally access the emergency alert system was linked to Jones’ computer, and defend FDLE officers for doing their jobs with “integrity.”
“What were they supposed to do? Just ignore it? Of course not,” DeSantis said. “It was not a raid. They were serving a valid process in accordance with the laws and the Constitution of the United States and the state of Florida. They did it with integrity. They did it with honor. And to say it was a raid is disinformation.”