David Hogg does it again: Publix halts political donations ahead of protests in stores

Daily Brian / Flickr David Hogg Attends White House Correspondents...
Daily Brian / Flickr

Florida’s much-beloved grocer Publix came under fire last week for their extensive political contributions to Adam Putnam, a self-described “NRA Sellout” and generally vile human being. Parkland survivor David Hogg immediately declared a boycott.

Is it an overreaction? Nope. Publix’s Putnam donation numbers are as terrifying as Putnam’s political stances.

The Lakeland-based supermarket chain became a target after a media report that Putnam had received $670,000 over the past three years from the employee-owned corporation. The South Florida Sun Sentinel has identified another $147,000 in donations, including $78,000 from Carol Barnett, former board director and daughter of the founder; an additional $49,000 from former executive M. Clayton Hollis Jr.; and an additional $20,000 from company executive Hoyt Barnett.

Putnam’s votes and stance on gun issues have earned him a top rating from the National Rifle Association, a gun lobbying organization.

On Wednesday, Hogg encouraged protesters “die-in” at their nearest Publix store, laying on the market floor for 720 seconds (12 minutes) at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, in honor of the number of school shootings in recent history.

As dawn broke Friday morning, Hogg and Change the Ref, a nonprofit urban art initiative created in honor of Hogg’s fallen classmate Joaquin Oliver, took their protest to the parking lot.

Just moments before protests began, Publix caved. Sort of.

“We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve,’’ said company spokesman Dwaine Stevens in a statement Friday. “As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.’’

The announcement came shortly before “die-in” protests organized by anti-gun activist David Hogg began in Florida, including at a store in Orlando just east of downtown.

Hogg didn’t cancel the protest in light of the company’s last-minute decision, and the die-ins were permitted to proceed without interference from Publix.

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This should not be a rite of passage for children.

Counter-protesters, of course, arrived and chanted “Trump, Trump” as the students and allies lay in silence.

The suspension of political donations is a bit of a surprise, since Publix is a brand that the Sun-Sentinel notes is nearly untouchable, enjoying “cult-like” status with a long history of supporting conservative causes and politicians.

“It shows how this particular issue of gun violence and mass shootings really does seem to be different this time, in some way,” said Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. “In a serious political game of chicken, Publix blinked.’’

Adam Putnam has yet to comment.

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