TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Former Florida Department of Health data analyst Rebekah Jones announced Monday night she is running for Congress in an effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
The announcement came hours after her Twitter account was suspended.
Jones told Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders that her account was suspended because of "overzealous" sharing of a recent Miami Herald article in which she blasted the Florida Department of Health and spoke about last year's raid at her home.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Jones wasn't suspended because of that. Rather, Pushaw said, it was because "she broke a clear rule against buying followers (platform manipulation) and -- all evidence points to this -- hijacking the accounts of unsuspecting users to make them follow her."
Rebekah Jones was NOT “censored” by Twitter for anything she posted. She was suspended because she broke a clear rule against buying followers (platform manipulation) and — all evidence points to this — hijacking the accounts of unsuspecting users to make them follow her. pic.twitter.com/ubRxmXZAxw— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) June 7, 2021
Pushaw went on to say that the suspension "does not look like an example of censorship, even though Rebekah Jones is a super-spreader of COVID-19 disinformation and has harmed many hardworking DOH employees with defamatory conspiracy theories that she promoted on Twitter."
Updated statement from DeSantis Press Sec. @ChristinaPushaw on suspension of @GeoRebekah. Meanwhile-- Jones saying: “It should be noted that there is absolutely zero evidence to support anything Pushaw said about why I was suspended.” pic.twitter.com/gkn1XUh8Jk— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) June 7, 2021
Jones said she was originally planning to announce her candidacy next month. But she said the comments from Pushaw about the suspension of her account accelerated the timeline.
Saunders asked Jones how seriously she is taking this.
"Taking a human sex trafficker out of Congress? Very interested," she told him.
So here’s a new twist in tonight’s Rebekah Jones suspension saga— she says she’s running for Rep. @mattgaetz seat. Statement below. When asked how seriously she is taking this— her response: “Taking a human sex trafficker out of Congress? Very interested.” pic.twitter.com/gHVXQue1nv— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) June 8, 2021
Jones has alleged that she was forced to manipulate COVID-19 data while working for the Department of Health. DeSantis and other state officials have denied this.
Gaetz, meanwhile, is embroiled in scandal involving a federal investigation into whether the Republican congressman from Florida's panhandle paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex.