Friday, May 25, 2018

Publix suspends political contributions as David Hogg ‘die-ins’ begin

Kyle Arnold and Mark Skoneki Orlando Sentinel May 25, 2018

Publix is facing pressure for its support of Adam Putnam, candidate for governor.

Publix said Friday it has suspended making political contributions in the wake of pressure over its support of Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor who backs the National Rifle Association.

“We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve,’’ said company spokesman Dwaine Stevens in statement. “As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.’’

The announcement came shortly before “die-in” protests organized by anti-gun activist David Hogg began in Florida, including a store in Orlando just east of downtown. Hogg is a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 students and faculty on Feb. 14.

Publix has faced increasing political pressure since the Tampa Bay Times reported this week that it has given $670,000 to Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner, in the past three years.

Putnam, who hails from Polk County where Publix’s headquarters is located, has called himself a “proud NRA sellout,’’ prompting Hogg and other protesters to call for a boycott of Publix. The company has said it supports Putnam, not the NRA.

“At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues,’’ Stevens said. “We regret that 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.’’