Publix faces boycott over donation to 'proud NRA sellout' in Florida election

Gun-control advocates are threatening to boycott Publix Super Markets over the company’s donation to a gubernatorial candidate in Florida who has called himself a “proud NRA sellout.”

Publix, a large grocery chain in the southeastern U.S., reportedly gave $670,000 to Adam Putnam, who is running in the Republican primary as voters choose a replacement for the departing GOP Gov. Rick Scott. Putnam, who currently serves as Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, opposed stricter gun-purchasing regulations passed by the state legislature and signed by Scott following the Parkland school shooting.

Activists in the state have taken to social media with calls to “#BoycottPublix” unless the Lakeland, Florida-based company withdraws its campaign donation. Some shoppers tweeted photos of receipts from other grocery stores in support of the boycott. There were, however, no signs as of this week that a large number of shoppers were abandoning the store, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Publix said Tuesday it supports political candidates who are pro-business, and the “vast majority” of its overall giving is focused on organizations that support young people, education and helping the hungry and homeless in local communities.

“As the largest private employer in the state of Florida, and with the majority of our stores and our corporate headquarters located here as well, we have a history of supporting candidates focused on job growth and a healthy Florida economy,” Publix said in a statement provided to FOX Business. “We regret that some of our political contributions have led to an unintentional customer divide instead of our desire to support a growing economy in Florida.”

The company also said it’s evaluating its “processes to ensure that our giving better reflects our intended desire to support a strong economy and a healthy community.”

The NRA hadn’t respond to a request for comment from FOX Business at the time of publication.

Publix, a popular grocery chain that has received accolades from customer satisfaction surveys, was ranked by Forbes as the seventh-largest private company in the U.S. last year based on annual revenue. Publix recorded about $34.6 billion in retail sales in 2017 and employs more than 190,000 people, according to company statistics. Publix has more than 1,100 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, gun-control activists have called out companies that have business relationships with the NRA or donate to Republican candidates. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other companies have severed ties with the NRA. The organization has said those decisions were “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

Putnam has been a fierce critic of gun regulations, telling the NRA’s television outlet, NRATV, that he doesn’t support raising the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21 or instituting a three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases—measures included in Florida’s gun bill.

“If you are 18, you can fight and die for this country,” Putnam said in the interview. “And yet, you wouldn’t be able to be trusted at the same age to go to the sporting goods store and purchase a shotgun to go dove-shoot.”