Publix pulls political funding amid anti-gun protests
Florida-based Publix on Friday suspended corporate-funded political contributions after being called out by gun control advocates for donations to Adam Putnam, a candidate for governor who supports the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Publix’s $670,000 donation to the state’s current agriculture commissioner came to light the prior week in the Tampa Bay Times. Mr. Putnam has described himself a “proud NRA sellout” and has one of the highest rankings from the organization, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
On Tuesday, several student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, where a gunman killed 17 students and faculty Feb. 14, said they were staging a “die-in” on Friday at two Publix stores and called for similar “peaceful” protests across the chain.
On Wednesday, Publix issued a statement saying it supported “bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates” and asserted it never donated to the NRA.
On Friday, however, Publix suspended its donations and said it was re-evaluating its policy. “At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues. We regret our contributions have led to a divide in our community. We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate. At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining a welcoming shopping environment for our customers. We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve.”
At least two die-ins occurred inside Publix’s locations. Protesters in the Coral Springs store were met by counter protests from pro-gun groups.
Phil Lempert, of Supermarket Guru, told the Washington Times, “We live in unusual times, and when we look at gun violence, all the rules are being rewritten. I think the impact will affect their bottom line in the very short term due to the protests, but canceling all political contributions is a very smart move.”
Among other retailers, Dick’s, Walmart, Kroger, L.L. Bean and Orvis have reworked firearms policies following the Parkland incident, while other companies have severed ties with the NRA. Dick’s went a step further by hiring a lobbyist to push for gun control, leading to boycott callouts inside competitor stores and a number of gun manufacturers to stop selling to the chain.
- Political Contributions – Publix
- Publix statement about campaign contributions – Publix
- Publix is supporting Adam Putnam’s run for governor like no politician before – Tampa Bay Times
- Parkland student David Hogg calls for ‘die-in’ protest at Publix supermarkets – Sun-Sentinel
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Did Publix make the right move in suspending political donations? Have political donations become riskier for corporations or do you see this situation largely related to current gun control sensitivities?