Responding to criticism for its political donations to a GOP gubernatorial candidate, Publix Supermarkets Inc. released a statement Thursday seeking to stake out politically neutral ground.
Publix’s statement said the company supports “bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates, regardless of political affiliation and we remain neutral on issues outside of our core business.”
Publix has drawn fire on social media following a report by the Tampa Bay Times that the employee-owned company, its current and former executives as well heirs to its founder have contributed $670,000 to GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam over the past three years. That figure includes a $100,000 donation on April 30, the Times reported.
Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture Secretary, is seeking the Republican Party nomination for governor. He is from Polk County, which is Lakeland-based Publix’s home county.
Since the Times report was posted earlier this week, Publix has become a target of a social media boycott campaign. Critics are blasting Publix’s contributions to Putnam, who they charge is a “sell out” to the National Rifle Association.
Publix’ statement Thursday followed earlier tweets in which the company attempted to draw a distinction between giving money to candidates versus to groups like the NRA.
State Rep. Carlos G. Smith, D-Winter Park, ripped Publix tweeting: “R U KIDDING ME? @Publix donated $670K to “proud NRA sellout” @adamputnam + they think they can distance themselves from the @NRA now? How many flowers did I buy from your stores for funerals, graves, + memorials for Pulse + MSD victims? #BoycottPublix”
Here is the statement Publix issued this morning:
“We are a company that cares about our associates, customers and the communities we serve. It is our mission to do our very best to please all Publix customers, but unfortunately in today’s complex world this is not always an easy task.
Recently, stories have circulated on social and traditional media channels regarding Publix’s contributions to Adam Putnam in Florida’s Gubernatorial race, and his positions on certain issues. We support bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates, regardless of political affiliation and we remain neutral on issues outside of our core business.
We serve customers with varying points of view and understand the sensitivity that can surround political topics. We appreciate the trust you place in allowing us to be your grocer of choice and your community partner.”