The 11th-hour decision likely will not help much, but Rebekah Jones continues to strive for relevance.
Today is Florida’s primary and in last-minute legal wrangling, disgraced former State Health Department worker, Rebekah Jones has been cleared by an appeals court late Monday to remain a valid candidate on the ballot in the Democratic Party runoff for District 1. The west Panhandle district is where Matt Gaetz hails from, and Jones had launched her bid for his seat last year – while living out of state.
The Jones saga was brought to the courts in July when her Democrat challenger Peggy Schiller filed a suit that stated Jones was ineligible because of a relatively new Florida law. In an effort to prevent crossover voting and manipulating primary results the state passed a law stipulating that candidates of a declared party must be registered as such for a calendar year. This is where Jones ran into issues, and in her typical fashion resorted to wild claims and manipulations to evade responsibility.
The issue is that in 2021, while living in Maryland, Jones had in fact registered as a Democrat well over a year ago, but for a two-month period she had changed her affiliation to “Unaffiliated”. She switched her party back to Democrat in August of 2021, but that meant she was not affiliated for the full year prior to filing as a candidate in Florida. A judge ruled against Jones in the suit and she was deemed invalid as a candidate, meaning today Schiller would have been declared the nominee as all votes for Jones would have been discarded.
During that hearing in July Jones and her counsel tried to argue that she had not in fact changed her party, that the move was done without her consent as she alleged she had been hacked. Not only does this defy common sense but it implies there was a grand conspiracy by forces anticipating her running in Florida and hacking her voting account, somehow done in preparation for her as yet unannounced campaign.
The judge swept aside the claims, as there was no indication of the voting rolls being hacked in any manner. Also disqualifying, Jones had filed at that time last year to run for office – registering her campaign as an Independent. She switched to running as a Democrat right after her voting affiliation was switched back to that party.
The three-judge appeals panel came back with its decision yesterday on what can only be deemed a technicality. They ruled that the lawsuit brought up after the filing of a candidate was invalid because as they decided, the law has no provisions for such a legal challenge. In the most obtuse of interpretations, they declared that the 365-day legal requirement has no means of being enforced.
The law requires candidates to affirm in writing that they meet requirements related to party affiliation. But the appeals-court ruling said the law “does not require proof of actual party affiliation, nor does it speak at all to disqualification of a candidate if those sworn affirmations turn out to be untrue. It provides no express authority to disqualify a party candidate if she was not in fact a registered party member during the 365-day window.”
“If we were to construe the party affiliation statement in (a section of state law) as a basis for disqualification, we would be reading into the statute what the Legislature chose not to include,” said the ruling, written by Judge Rachel Nordby and joined by Judges Harvey Jay and Scott Makar.
Umm…I’m sorry, but What?! The law requires a year of candidacy, but the law does not require proof?? And though it bears the requirement, if one fails to meet that requirement it is not a basis for someone to be disqualified. This means that as long as someone writes down that they were a party member for a year, that is good enough! No one can challenge the claim, because you are not allowed to demand proof.
This actually seems fitting for Jones, whose entire existence seems to be rooted in altered facts and subterfuge. A state investigation into her claims found zero evidence of the manipulation of data, as she alleged she had been ordered to do by health board authorities. Jones not only is not medically accredited nor a scientist, but she did not have the power from her position to access the portions of the portal claimed to have been altered.
On her campaign page, Jones lists herself as a “whistleblower” and a “scientist”. It is only fitting that she has judges rule in her favor based on the claim a law sets out stipulations but has no means of enforcement.