Publix, which takes great pride in its customer service, is now dealing with a public relations issue that could lead to boycotts of the ubiquitous Florida-based supermarket company.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli donated over $980,000 to former President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party, and another $300,000 to fund the Jan. 6 rally at the Capitol in Washington that turned into a riot.
During the rally, crowds stormed the Capitol, resulting in five deaths and dozens of injuries. Members of Congress had to be placed on lockdown, which prompted Trump’s second impeachment.
Before denyingFancelli’s reported donation, Publix described the Capitol attacks as a “national tragedy.”
Fancelli’s donations quickly led to a firestorm on social media and hashtag #BoycottPublix appeared on outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where many Publix customers said they would stop shopping at Publix.
Laurie Woodward Garcia, a Broward County activist, shared her thoughts with a post via Facebook.
“When you purchase products from Publix, you support radical Republicans who espouse lies, disinformation, and a willingness to subvert democracy. Do not patronize this company,” Garciawrote. “We are calling for a complete and total boycott of Publix until the funding of radical Republicans stops.”
The Leon County Democratic Party’s Facebook page reposted her post with the link to a petition she started on Publix supermarket boycotting.
In response, many Leon County Republicans, including Jim Duffy, shared their views on the boycott.
“If you are going to boycott Publix because of donations to Republicans, you should go ahead and boycott all companies that donated to Republicans. Go ahead. The rest of us will watch you squirm as you realize you can’t buy anything anywhere. Good luck to you,” Duffy wrote.
Some Publix shoppers and employees urged disappointed customers to realize that Publix is a Florida-based supermarket chain and is also the largest “employee-owned” company in the country. The loss will not hurt Fancelli, but the chain’s employees.
At that time, Publix posted on Twitter in regard to the reports and backlash the company faced.
“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.”
This isn’t the first time that the successors of Publix founder George Jenkins have been involved in incidents that led to calls to boycott Publix. More recent incidents include the 2016 donation opposing the medical marijuana constitutional amendment, the 2018 contribution to a gubernatorial candidate, and the 2020 December donation to help Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis present the company as the first COVID-19 vaccine distributor in Florida.