Leon County Democrats are among shoppers in Florida and Georgia calling for a boycott of Publix grocery stores after news that an heir of the company’s founder helped fund a Jan. 6 rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Meantime, their Republican counterparts reposted the Democrats’ boycott call on their own page to highlight what they consider “the worst example” of the “cancel culture.”
“This is a boycott because of the actions of someone (who is) not an employee or a member of management,” said Evan Power, chair of the Leon County Republican Executive Committee.
The call for a boycott is to cut off political funding to certain members of the Florida Congressional delegation, whom the organizers say “espouse treason.”
Democratic Party representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The roots of the warring Facebook posts are in a Wall Street Journal article published over the weekend that details donations by Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins, of more than $980,000 to President Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Fancelli, one of the heirs to the Publix founder’s $6.8 billion estate, also provided most of the $500,000 for a rally near the White House that preceded the attack on Congress where at least five people died. https://1d04be0d9cee1f93e76d081175596d5a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“We are calling for a complete and total boycott of Publix,” according to the post by Laurie Woodward Garcia, a Broward County activist.
“Although Publix stores offer many benefits, their funding of radical Republicans espousing flames of insurrection and treason has no place in a civilized society,” added Garcia, in a statement reposted by the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee.
By Tuesday morning, more than 500 people had signed the petition. https://1d04be0d9cee1f93e76d081175596d5a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Publix moved quickly to place distance between itself and Fancelli, releasing a statement that she is not an employee, not involved in the business and doesn’t represent the company “in any way.” Given that, Leon Republicans don’t understand why anyone would boycott the chain.
“Instead of pushing this radical agenda, they should focus on getting a new employment deal for our firefighters or pushing the city to reduce crime,” Power said.
Publix operates more than 1,200 stores in eight states, including 817 in Florida and is the largest worker-owned business in the country, according to Businesswire, an investment and public policy news service. In a quarterly statement, Publix said it posted $38.1 billion in sales in 2019.
But when it comes to a boycott, following the money is difficult.
Publix defenders argue a boycott would hurt “the cashiers, deli workers, truck drivers, butchers and bakers who you interact with each day,” as one Facebook commenter said.
When asked about the economic impact of a boycott, Garcia provided links to Federal Elections Commission campaign finance reports that show the Publix Super Markets Inc. Associates Political Action Committee’s campaign donations for the 2020 election cycle. (Allison Penn, Publix’s director of government relations, is the PAC’s treasurer.)
It had donated $240,000 to Republican members of Florida’s Congressional delegation, whom Garcia refers to as “GOP traitors” because they demonstrated a “willingness to subvert democracy” when they refused to certify the results of the 2020 presidential campaign.
In all, 26 Florida congressional campaigns received some of the $360,000 the Publix PAC gave in last year’s election.
Included among the Democrats the PAC gave money to were Al Lawson of Tallahassee, Lois Frankel of Palm Beach, Miami’s Alcee Hastings, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Fort Lauderdale.
Among the Republican recipients were Panama City’s Neal Dunn, Fort Walton’s Matt Gaetz, Sarasota’s Greg Steube and Naples’ Byron Donalds.
This isn’t the first time that George Jenkins’ descendants have created political troubles for the supermarket chain championed by consumers for its deli-made sub sandwiches and customer service.
In 2016, Fancelli’s sister Carol Jenkins Barnett donated $800,000 to a campaign opposed to the medical marijuana constitutional amendment.
In 2018, in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shootings, survivors latched onto campaign finance reports that showed members of the Publix management team had donated to GOP candidate for governor Adam Putnam — a self-declared “proud NRA sellout.” Protesters later staged a series of die-ins at Publix markets.