Publix stopped giving to politicians after NRA controversy. Now it’s back in business

Publix is back in the political arena.

The Lakeland-based grocery chain donated $33,000 to Florida lawmakers in February, the company’s first contributions since halting all political giving last year during a national firestorm related to the Parkland shooting.

Last May, Publix generated significant backlash after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the company and its current and former leaders and founders had donated $670,000 to Adam Putnam’s campaign for governor. It was the most by far that Publix had ever donated to a single political campaign.

Gun violence survivors and activists were outraged that the popular supermarket chain had thrown its support behind Putnam in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Putnam, a Republican, declared himself a “proud NRA sellout” in 2017.

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Parkland students led by David Hogg encouraged a boycott of Publix and activists staged die-ins at its stores. In its damage control, Publix responded by halting all contributions indefinitely and internally told employees it was reviewing its political giving policies. That pause, though, ended in February.

Guess I’ll be getting my chocolate chip muffins elsewhere from now on. Common @Publix https://t.co/uSVso4nzLh

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 15, 2018

The company donated $1,000 to 33 lawmakers, including Democrats and Republicans, just before the start of the legislative session.

Publix spokesman Brian West declined to comment on any changes to the company’s policies, but he acknowledged that company money was flowing to campaign coffers again.

“The important work done by our elected officials has significant impacts on Publix, our associates and our customers,” West said. “As such, Publix has made the decision to reengage…

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