Business

Publix to evaluate donation process after Putnam political backlash

Posted May 26, 2018 12:06 p.m. EDT

Amid a growing backlash for its sizable donation to pro-NRA gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, Publix has said it will evaluate its processes for giving to ensure it better reflects the chain's "intended desire."

In its most recent statements to associates and the media, Publix says it regrets the donation has caused "unintentional customer divide instead of (a) desire to support a growing economy in Florida."

Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg on Wednesday added to the fervor of the Publix boycott by announcing plans to stage a "die in" at his city's two grocery stores on Friday.

Via Twitter on Wednesday, he said protesters will lie down in the aisles for 12 minutes beginning at 4 p.m.

Hogg, like others protesting the Lakeland-based chain, are frustrated that Publix leaders gave $670,000 to Putnam's campaign.

"Feel free to die in with us at as many other @Publix as possible," he tweeted.

Putnam has called himself a "proud NRA sellout" and opposed stricter state gun laws passed after the 17 Parkland shooting deaths.

In previous statements, Publix has said it supports Putnam for his "pro-business values" and has never given money to the National Rifle Association.

Still, some shoppers have pledged to boycott the popular chain until it denounces Putnam and the money it has given him.

Some small state political groups have asked shoppers to "#BoycottPublix" this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Others have taken to posting receipts from other grocery stores to social media to show the store the money it's losing.

In its latest statement, Publix said it has a "history of supporting candidates focused on job growth and a healthy Florida economy."

Florida's Chamber of Commerce, the state's largest business group, has also pledged support to Putnam's run for governor over Rep. Ron DeSantis and the Democratic field.

By Wednesday, "#BoycottPublix" was continuing to gain traction on social media as both sides of the debate argued over Putnam and Publix's contribution.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.