Publix is big contributor to “hometown candidate” for governor

by | May 15, 2018

Publix — where shopping is a pleasure.

It’s a place where giving to Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam also appears to be a pleasure for the supermarket giant that is based in Florida.

A report in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times shows Publix has given more to  Putnam’s campaign than any other candidate since at least 1995, and possibly in the company’s history.

Publix, the heirs to the company’s founder and its current and former leaders have given Putnam $670,000 in the last three years — or enough money to buy 74,527 chicken tender subs.

It’s most recent contribution, and its largest so far, was $100,000 that came on April 30.

A spokesman for Publix told the Times, Putnam is the “hometown” candidate — a native of Bartow in Polk County. That’s about 20 minutes away from Publix’s headquarters in Lakeland.

“As the hometown candidate, Publix has had a long-standing relationship with Commissioner Putnam,” spokesman Brian West said. “We support pro-business candidates, and believe Commissioner Putnam will make a great governor.”

The Times points out that Publix has a long history with Putnam. The supermarket chain contributed $500 to Putnam’s first campaign when he ran for the Florida House in 1996 at the age of 22.

The report also points out there is more than a “hometown” connection.

The more recent contributions came as Putnam oversaw regulation of the company’s 785 stores. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that Putnam leads conducts health safety inspections at grocery stores. It also handles consumer complaints directed at food businesses, including supermarkets.

Justin Hollis, the grandson of a past vice president of Publix serves as chairman of Putnam’s political action committee, Florida Grown. His great grandfather William M. Hollis was a vice president at the company and his grandfather, Mark Hollis, served 12 years as president and later as vice chairman.

Putnam’s PAC has paid Justin Hollis’ consulting firm, Silloh Consulting, more than $1 million this election season.

The Times reports that Putnam has also received contributions from the political action committees of Florida’s largest industries, which Publix also contributes to.

Publix has donated to these PACs as well. The grocery chain gave nearly $1.5 million in the past 18 months to various PACs that have steered $2.1 million to Putnam.

The support of Publix has helped give Putnam the lead in fundraising among the candidates running for governor. Putnam has raised over $22 million to date. The other Republican in the race, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, has brought in $8.3 million.



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