The DeSantis administration has worked long and hard to discredit Rebekah Jones, fired last year from her job as a data analyst after she accused state health officials of pressuring her to manipulate certain coronavirus numbers. She has stood her ground for a year, and last week, the Florida’s Office of the Inspector General firmed up the earth beneath her feet.

Friday, the IG’s office told Jones’ attorneys that she is a whistleblower, officially. This will afford her certain protections, plus the possibility of reinstatement or compensation. The former health department staffer said that she was asked to skew data analysis to better mesh with administration policy and also to screen other statistics from public view.

In a world that likes a clear, bright line between the heroines and the villains, Jones, like her nemesis DeSantis, is not perfect. In January, she was arrested and charged with allegedly hacking into a state messaging system and encouraging people to “speak up.” Trumped-up charge? Who knows? She also has a cyberstalking charge in her past, but no convictions.

Of course, the governor, who seemed to care not one bit about the health and well-being of most Floridians as the pandemic raged, has a soft spot for the environment. Go figure.

So far, DOH emails reviewed by the Miami Herald show Jones was asked to remove data from public view after receiving questions about it from the news organization. In addition, she has gone up against an administration that has shamelessly concealed vital COVID information during the past year. Unfortunately, the possibility of DOH manipulating information is not a stretch.

An investigation continues, and with the cover of whistleblower status. Jones will need to vigorously back up her allegations and the state, its defense.

For now, Jones’ whistleblower victory stands to be a win over state secrecy for the rest of us.


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