Publix is facing calls for a boycott after reports revealed that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heir to the regional supermarket chain and daughter of its late founder George W. Jenkins, donated $300,000 to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” Donald Trump rally that preceded the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Fancelli contributed the bulk of the $500,000 needed to fund the rally where Trump refused to concede the election and called on supporters to go to the Capitol and “take back our country,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 30. Fancelli herself directly contacted far-right pundit Alex Jones — who pledged seed money for the event — and offered to contribute to the rally, organizers told the Journal.
Fancelli, a GOP megadonor, contributed a total of $171,100 to a pro-Trump PAC in 2019, as the Miami New Times reported. This was on top of the personal maximum donations that Fancelli and multiple family members gave to Trump’s campaign. Through a trust, Fancelli also donated more than $50,000 to a PAC for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis from 2018 to 2019.
Publix, which has locations in the southeast and headquarters in Florida, has a sunny reputation in many ways: the grocery chain is employee-owned, has been consistently named one of the best companies to work for, and prides itself on customer service and a family-friendly image. But Publix has also been criticized for its conservative edge, including a history of alleged mistreatment of LGBTQ workers, gender discrimination, and donations to right-wing causes.
In 2018, after the Parkland school shooting, Publix leaders donated $670,000 to Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, who called himself a “proud NRA sellout” and opposed stricter gun laws. Shortly after Publix announced it would be suspending political donations amid backlash, a lobbying group largely funded by the grocery chain donated an additional $100,000 to Putnam’s PAC.
In December, Publix donated $100,000 to a PAC for DeSantis, who later awarded the supermarket chain an exclusive vaccine distribution contract, despite Publix locations being inaccessible to some Black and rural communities. Publix and DeSantis denied any link between the political contributions and the vaccine distribution agreement.
Now, in the aftermath of the Capitol assault that left five people dead, some customers are rethinking their relationship with Publix. The hashtag #BoycottPublix has trended on Twitter multiple times over the past month.
“It was the last straw,” one longtime customer told the Guardian. “Insurrection at the Capitol, images of the police officer with his head being crushed, individuals dressed as Vikings on the floor of the Senate … we’re not going to call this normal. [Publix] are a private company and it is their business how they want to contribute their money, but it’s also my right to decide where I want to spend my dollars.”
Publix’s Twitter account has remained silent since Jan. 30, when it posted the company’s only public statement regarding the news of Julie Jenkins Fancelli’s connection to the Jan. rally:
Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.
The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets.
- Jan. 6 Rally Funded by Top Trump Donor, Helped by Alex Jones, Organizers Say [WSJ]
- ‘The last straw’: the US families ending love affair with grocery chain after Capitol riot [Guardian]
- People are boycotting Publix because a member of its founding family gave $300,000 to the Trump rally that led to the January 6 Capitol riots [Business Insider]