A Florida Republican lawyer resigned from a state commission in protest after a police raid on the home of a former Health Department employee who said she was fired after refusing to manipulate coronavirus data.
Ron Filipkowski, a member of the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which nominates judges to fill vacancies in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, is a registered Republican who was re-elected last year by Governor Ron DeSantis. .
But in his resignation letter, Filipkowski wrote: “I have been increasingly alarmed by the governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I believe that the policy of this state towards COVID is reckless and irresponsible,” he added.
Despite his concerns, Filipkowski said he remained on the committee because “the health policy was not related to my job.”
But after state law enforcement officers raided the home of former Health Department employee Rebekah Jones, Filipkowski said the issue is “now legal rather than just medical,” deciding that “I no longer wish to serve the current government. from Florida”. in any capacity «.
Jones is a former Department of Health data scientist who created the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, which provides regular updates to the public on coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, deaths, and other vital statistics related to the pandemic. She said she was fired after refusing to “manipulate data.”
State officials said Jones was fired for insubordination after multiple reprimands.
Who is Rebekah Jones? Authorities Raid Former Florida COVID-19 Data Scientist’s Home
State officials are investigating a complaint from the Department of Health that someone hacked into the agency’s emergency communications channel and sent a text message to 1,750 DOH employees and other agencies saying, “It’s time to speak up before other 17,000 people. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak before it is too late.
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Agents seized Jones’ computer equipment. She has denied hacking into the emergency communications system. An affidavit filed by a state investigator said the text message came from an Internet Protocol (IP) address linked to Jones’ account at Comcast.
Even if Jones sent the message, Filipkowski questioned whether it was a crime.
What is the crime here? I ask. “The crime is that she sends an email to tell people to tell the truth?”
He also considered the raid inappropriate.
“You don’t send 12 armed officers to raid your computer for doing that,” he said. “That is the Gestapo. Those are authoritarian dictatorial tactics. That is not the United States. It really bothered me viscerally.
Filipkowsi, 52, said he is a lifelong Republican who served as president of the South Sarasota County Republican Club and was active in the Sarasota Republican Party, where he served as the party’s general counsel. Filipkowski, a former state and federal prosecutor, is now a defense attorney and in 2008 he ran as a public defender in the 12th Judicial Circuit as a Republican, losing in the primaries to Larry Eger. His son is named Ronald Reagan Filipkowski.
But Filipkowski opposed President Donald Trump and voted for Democrat Joe Biden, although he voted for all Republicans in the election against. He said the Republican Party under Trump “is more of a cult of personality that adores a supreme leader.” He worked with the Lincoln Project, a group of former Republicans opposed to Trump, and appeared on three billboards in Florida criticizing the president.
However, although he opposed Trump, Filipkowski said: “I was fine with DeSantis until COVID; I think he has sold us completely.
A DeSantis spokesman did not respond to a message seeking the governor’s reaction to Filipkowski’s resignation.
This article originally appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Rebekah Jones Raid: Florida Republican Attorney Resigns in Protest