The grocery store chain Publix is at the center of a controversy over donations from a member of its founding family to the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol incursion.
The company is also taking heat for donations it made to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. The donations preceded a partnership between the state and Publix to use stores as vaccination sites against COVID-19.
The two actions led to the hashtag #BoycottPublix becoming popular on Twitter, according to the Independent.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, the daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins and a long-time donor to Republicans who donated almost $1 million to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party in the 2020 election cycle, donated $300,000 to the Jan. 6 rally.
That funding was a major portion of the event’s $500,000 cost, and was facilitated by radio show host Alex Jones.
The donation became fodder for Twitter users to declare they would boycott Publix as they called for others to do the same.
Founding family member of Publix donated $300,000 to the Trump rally that proceeded the Jan 6th Capitol attack.
Publix donated $100,000 toward Gov DeSantis’ campaign. DeSantis then awarded Publix exclusive Covid vaccine distribution contract. https://t.co/vsfDcVMoXL
— Barb: Biden WON! ?❤️???❤️? (@BBopTop) February 15, 2021
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) February 15, 2021
A month into #BOYCOTTPUBLIX I can attest that it’s not too hard to find better options. Our family spent a ton of $ with @Publix, but we can staples cheaper at Aldi or Target, and shop local/regional grocers for other items. And we’re not funding Alex Jones or sedition. Win-win?? https://t.co/1PKMffk9B7
— Andy Parrish (@AltDeptOfAndy) February 15, 2021
Publix said it had no connection to Fancelli’s donation.
“Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions,” the grocery chain said in a statement.
“The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets.”
Publix Statement regarding Julie Fancelli: pic.twitter.com/SLYEe3Je5a
— Publix (@Publix) January 31, 2021
But donations the company did make have also landed it in hot water with its critics.
The company donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ political committee in December, and then on Jan. 5 was touted as the newest place in Florida where residents could be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to WJCT-FM.
The company said there was no connection between the two.
“Absolutely incorrect,” said Publix director of communications Maria Brous.
“As a Florida-based company with more than 750 pharmacies throughout the state, Publix is well-positioned to serve as a partner in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to Florida’s residents. Our large footprint, infrastructure and distribution network across the state, as well as our experience with administering the flu vaccine (and other vaccines) and online scheduling technology, gives us the capability to efficiently deploy the vaccine.
“That expertise is critically needed at this time. In less than a week we have vaccinated more than 10,000 Floridians in only 22 of our stores. We are determined to do our part to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and serve our communities,” the company said.
A spokeswoman for DeSantis also rejected any link, calling the suggestion “baseless and ridiculous.”
“Gov. DeSantis is focused on putting seniors first and is leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure the vaccine is as accessible as possible to Florida’s broader 4.5 million senior population. The governor is building out Florida’s vaccine distribution infrastructure through innovative pilot programs, such as the ones we’ve launched with Publix, as well as with places of worship, senior living communities and converting state-run testing sites into vaccine testing sites,” spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said.
According to Al.com, Publix has more than 1,200 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
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