- Photo via Publix on Facebook
A lobbying group that receives almost all of its funding from Publix is actively supporting self-described "proud NRA sellout" and Florida governor candidate Adam Putnam.
Just six days after Publix announced they would suspend political donations
, the right-wing trade group Florida Retail Federation
(FRF), which is heavily funded by the Lakeland-based grocery chain, donated $100,000 to Adam Putnam's Florida Grown
political action committee.
Last month, nationwide protests led by Parkland school shooting survivor and outspoken NRA critic David Hogg broke out after a report from the Tampa Bay Times
showed that Publix gave an unprecedented $670,000 to Putnam over the course of three years.
Publix responded by saying they would suspend all political donations on May 25.
According to public records, the FRF gave $100,000 to Florida Grown on May 31, less than a week later. Though a spokesperson for Publix told Orlando Weekly
that the company hasn't given any political contributions since May 23, almost all of the money the FRF currently has on hand is from the popular Florida grocery chain.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Florida Retail Federation, it could be considered the political arm of Publix.
In 2017, the FRF reported a total of $431,291 in donations from its members, which includes businesses like the Walt Disney World Co., SeaWorld and Ron Jon Surf Shop. Of that number, Publix donated $350,000, which made up 81 percent of the FRF's total funding.
For comparison's sake, the other donors weren't even close. The next sizable donations to the FRF in 2017 were from Walgreens and Macy's, who gave $25,000 each.
This year, the FRF has received $174,394
from its active members. And, like the year before, Publix has donated the lion's share. From January to April of 2018, Publix has given $150,000, which so far makes up 86 percent of the group's finances.
The FRF is the largest pro-business lobbying group in our state, with a track record of very on-brand maneuvers like squashing a city's ability to raise their own minimum wage
, banning cities from banning plastic bags
, and supporting business-happy politicians. So obviously, the Florida Retailers Association is a huge supporter of Putnam.
From 2015 to 2017, the group has given over $360,000 to the anti-gun reform Republican. Also, it's worth noting that the vice president of the FRF, Melissa Joiner Ramba
, is driving around with a Putnam sticker on her car – and she tweeted it just days after the Publix-Putnam flap started.
It's important to remember that Publix and Putnam go way back. Besides, the fact they both hail from Polk County, Publix has been supporting Putnam since his campaign for state House of Representatives in 1996.
Not to mention the chairman of Putnam's Florida Grown political action committee is a literally a third-generation Publix guy. Putnam's Florida Grown PAC is, and I shit you not, led by Justin Hollis, whose great-grandfather and grandfather served as president and vice president of Publix
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.