2020 Whistleblower of the Year Goes to... Rebekah Jones
The results are in and Constantine Cannon’s 2020 Whistleblower of the Year award goes to Rebekah Jones. She is the former data scientist for the Florida Department of Health who was fired for what she claims was her refusal to manipulate COVID-19 tracking data to support a political push to reopen Florida after less than a month of quarantine. Later on, she went to create her own website to provide what she considers a more accurate, reliable and unadulterated data on coronavirus cases and patient demographics in Florida.
You can learn her full story here. But the essence of her story is all too familiar. A whistleblower standing up to and speaking out against what she considers fraud and misconduct that threatens all of us, only to be retaliated against for trying to remedy the perceived wrong and bring truth to light. In this case, Ms. Jones took it one step further, taking her crusade public and accomplishing on her own what she was prevented from doing within the confines of her employment.
In the process, Ms. Jones has become a national whistleblower hero. Not only for standing up for truth and transparency against what many consider a state that had gone rogue in dealing with this deadly virus. But also for refusing to be silenced, even with the full force of the Sunshine State against her, guns a-blazing. Literally.
She has only become more steely in her resolve and more impassioned in using her trials and tribulations as a platform to encourage others to stand up and be heard. “Attacking scientists and whistleblowers is as American as apple pie,” she says. “But people’s refusal to be silenced is equally American. To all the would-be whistleblowers considering coming forward, . . . [n]ever let the fear of retaliation temper your desire to be a good, honest person.”
It is for all this and more that led our voters to select Ms. Jones as 2020 Whistleblower of the Year. She joins the noble ranks of prior-year winners, which include Siobhan O’Connor, James Comey, LeAnne Walters, Craig Watts, Mary Willingham, Taylor Radig, and so many other shining examples of courage and sacrifice in pursuit of the common good. And she beat out an especially strong field of other whistleblowers this year, all eminently worthy of the accolade and our deepest respect and appreciation:
- Rick Bright – The former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) who sounded the alarm that the federal government was not doing nearly enough to protect the public from COVID-19.
- Xavier Justo – The Swiss businessman who helped unravel 1MDB corruptions scandal where over $4.5 billion was embezzled by high-level Malaysian officials, including former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
- Yasmine Motarjemi – The Nestle scientist who raised food safety concerns at the company.
- Dawn Wooten – The immigration detention facility nurse who came forward to report on forced hysterectomies.
- Sophie Zhang – The former Facebook data analyst who resigned in protest over the platform’s failure to root out fake accounts spreading disinformation affecting elections and campaigns in emergent countries outside the U.S. and Western Europe.
That Rebekah Jones was voted this year’s winner over this inspiring cadre of courageous souls makes her victory all the more meaningful and impressive. So hats off to Ms. Jones, and all of this year’s candidates, for all that you have done and continue to do to make this world a safer and better place for all of us.
And for more on Ms. Jones and her ongoing fight for truth and transparency, please stay tuned for our upcoming interview where she explains the path she has taken and where she expects it will lead in the months and years ahead.
- Whistleblower of the Year nominees and prior winners
- Whistleblower Quiz: Would You Blow the Whistle?
- I Think I Have a Whistleblower Case
- The Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Team
- Speak confidentially with a whistleblower attorney
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