Jared Moskowitz, who led Florida’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ripped former Florida health department worker Rebekah Jones for “running a disinformation campaign” about Florida’s pandemic response.
The former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management blasted Jones after she shared screenshots of private messages between herself and Moskowitz with The Miami Herald in an attempt to embarrass the former Florida official. The messages are largely congenial, but Moskowitz claimed that he was keeping Jones close to limit the false and damaging information she was spreading to her sizable following.
“With a platform of 400,000 Twitter followers, her reputation for bullying people on social media and her running a disinformation campaign that the national media echoed, she was more dangerous as an enemy than a friend,” Moskowitz told Politico. “Everything she did was disinformation.”
“She had a dedicated following — and whether it was fact or fiction — treated everything she said as if it were in the Old Testament,” he added. He likened his friendly messages with Jones to “keeping a fish on the hook.”
Moskowitz added that Jones’ attacks on Florida’s response and GOP Governor Ron DeSantis have backfired. Jones’ claims of misconduct and data tampering have consistently been found unsubstantiated or contradicted by official data.
“There was no doubt this was an effort to harm the governor,” Moskowitz said of Jones’ campaign. “But what they’ve done is the opposite: give him a national platform and attention that made him a political juggernaut in his party.”
Jones was fired from her job working for the Florida Department of Health as a COVID dashboard designer last year. She claimed that she was ordered to change data on the dashboard in an effort to cover up the impact of the pandemic on Florida. Florida officials denied Jones’ assertions, saying she was fired for insubordination.
Jones had a different take on the Moskowitz messages, telling Politico that Moskowitz was an “excellent resource for combating the conspiracy theories being spread by Ron DeSantis and his administration, whom he characterized as ‘Conspiracy Frat Bro’ and ‘relentless’ in our conversations.” Moskowitz denied ever referring to DeSantis in those terms and pointed out that they did not appear in any of the messages Jones shared with the media.
Jones was indicted in January for allegedly hacking into the Florida emergency message system in December and sending a message to Floridians that read: “Speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.” She has been charged with a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Jones is also entangled in misdemeanor charges related to her tenure as a professor at Florida State University for allegedly stalking a student she had an affair with. Garrett Sweeterman, who was 21 at the time, was granted a restraining order against Jones after she allegedly created a “revenge porn” website and published online a 342-page manifesto detailing their relationship.