Publix responds to controversy over campaign donations

It’s a controversy that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Last week, a Publix boycott movement sprang up after the Tampa Bay Times uncovered a $670,000 donation from the grocery chain to Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign. 

This week, one of the survivors of the Parkland school shooting, David Hogg, upped the ante. On Wednesday, the student activist took to Twitter to turn up the pressure on Publix to stop supporting Putnam. In a tweet, the teen called for a die-in at Publix stores this Friday. 

The tweet says protesters will lie down in the aisles starting at 4 p.m. They plan to stay in place for 12 minutes. According to Hogg’s tweet, the protests will take place in two Parkland Publix locations, but he also calls on others to join by staging "die-ins" at any Publix location. 

At issue is Putnam’s stance on guns. Putnam has an A+ rating from the NRA and has described himself as an “NRA sellout.” 

Putnam is from Polk County, which is where Publix originated. Amid calls for a boycott last week, Publix said it is supporting Putnam in the 2018 race for governor because he is pro-business and the company says it thinks he’d make a great candidate for governor.  

But this week, Publix released a new statement that takes a bit of a different tone in response to the continued controversy. It read, in part: 

“We regret that some of our political contributions have led to an unintentional customer divide instead of our desire to support a growing economy in Florida... As a result of this situation, we are evaluating our processes to ensure that our giving better reflects our intended desire to support a strong economy and a healthy community.”

The company has not specifically commented on Hogg’s call for a die-in. It also has not said what, if anything, will be done if activists stage protests inside their stores.