Times Report: Publix Gives Largest Contribution Ever To Putnam, Faces Backlash
According to a Tampa Bay Times investigation, Publix has given more money to Adam Putnam's bid for governor than any other candidate since at least 1995.
Publix has given Putnam $670,000 in the last three years, or as the Times calculated, “enough money to buy 74,527 chicken tender subs.”
Times reporter Steve Contorno said after that report, many customers of the Florida-based supermarket took to Twitter to express their concerns about the company’s support of Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and self-proclaimed “proud NRA sellout.”
"In the wake of (the Parkland shooting), there's quite a few people who aren't happy to see Publix, which is a very popular brand beloved by many Florida residents for their clean stores and their pub subs, they're not happy to see them get behind a candidate who is so much a supporter of the National Rifle Association,” Contorno said.
Publix replied, tweeting that its financial support of the Republican Commissioner of Agriculture does not extend to the NRA.
The tweets also say the company supports Putnam because he's the hometown candidate as a Bartow native, just 20 minutes from Publix's headquarters in Lakeland.
Hi Traci, supporting our associates, customers and communities is always top of mind for Publix, especially when tragedies strike like natural disasters and gun violence. When we are deciding which political candidates to financially support during an election, we consider... 1/2— Publix (@Publix) May 15, 2018
...a number of factors. Publix has not provided financial support to the National Rifle Association. ■Matthew 2/2— Publix (@Publix) May 15, 2018
As one of the largest employers in the state of Florida, and with the majority of our stores and our corporate headquarters located here as well, we have a significant interest in our home state. As the hometown candidate, Publix has supported Commissioner Putnam since he... 1/2— Publix (@Publix) May 16, 2018
...ran for the state House of Representatives. ≈ Monique 2/2— Publix (@Publix) May 16, 2018
Publix’s $100,000 donation to Putnam's Political Action Committee "Florida Grown" on April 30 is its largest contribution ever. Usually, their contributions are about $1,000.
Contorno said it's noteworthy that Florida's largest private business has not traditionally been so invested in a single candidate until now.
"This is unprecedented for Publix in its history and it’s a very well-known Florida company and it's worth pointing out how they are spending their money and who are they choosing to support,” Contorno said.
In 2016, ABC Action News reported that after several Tampa Bay area Publix locations failed their state health inspections, inspections were taken offline.
“For all of Publix’s 785 stores in Florida, (Putnam is) in charge of insuring that they are providing healthy food and healthy facilities for Florida,” Contorno said. “During that time, there was a story that came out about several Publix’s in our area, the Tampa Bay area, not passing inspection.”
“In response, he pulled the entire database of health inspections down for six months and came up with a whole new system in which supermarkets no longer can get a failing grade, the worst grade is they just have to come back for a re-inspection.”
Read the full Times story here.