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Supermarket giant Publix said Friday it has halted all corporate political contributions. The company made the announcement moments before a planned “die-in” protest organized by David Hogg, a vocal Parkland school shooting survivor.
Hogg and other gun violence activists were angered when news broke that the grocery store chain donated $670,000 over the last three years to Adam Putnam, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who once boasted he was a “proud NRA sellout.” It’s the largest contribution the company has made in more than 20 years and possibly the biggest in company history.
Since a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 more in a Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students have spearheaded a political campaign for more gun control and taken aim at the National Rifle Association.
The donation news sparked fierce backlash against the grocery store. On Friday, Hogg organized a “die-in” protest at a Coral Springs Publix and asked people to lie on the floor of the grocery store for 12 minutes. It was set to begin at 4 p.m.
Moments before the protest was to begin, Publix released a statement apologizing for putting its employees and customers “in the middle of a political debate” and announcing a suspension of political contributions.
The statement reads, in full:
“At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues. We regret that our contributions have led to a divide in our community. We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate. At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining a welcoming shopping environment for our customers.
“We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve. As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.”
A spokesperson for Putnam’s campaign said in a statement “nothing has changed” since the corporation’s decision.
“Adam Putnam supports Publix, which is Florida’s top private employer. He is thankful for their support as Florida’s candidate over the years.”