- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

David Hogg might not want to hold his breath while waiting for that $1 million donation from Publix.

Two weeks after the 18-year-old student activist called on Publix to atone for supporting a pro-National Rifle Association candidate by sending $1 million to the Parkland victims’ fund, the grocery chain has shown no indication that it plans to do so.

Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss confirmed that the company has not donated to the crowdfunding account, but highlighted the firm’s public-service activities at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, scene of the deadly Feb. 14 shooting.

“While we have not contributed to the GoFundMe account, on April 3, more than 65 Publix associates, including our CEO & President [Todd Jones], spent our Publix Serves Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” said Ms. Krauss in an email.

“We worked on several projects that were funded by Publix, including an herb/vegetable garden for the culinary program, beautification of common grounds and sodding, and landscaping a new yoga/meditation area for the students,” she said. “We hoped our efforts would help the students find comfort in each other and a peaceful place to reflect and meditate.”

Publix landed in the center of the gun-control debate last month over its reported $670,000 in campaign contributions over three years to Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam, a staunch NRA supporter who’s running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

The company suspended its political giving shortly before Mr. Hogg led a May 25 supermarket “die-in,” but has not asked Mr. Putnam to return the campaign checks or contributed to the GoFundMe account, which reached $8.8 million on Wednesday.

Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, who has called repeatedly on Publix to take back its Putnam contributions, said Mr. Jones told him on the phone that “Publix would not be making any donation to the victims fund.”

“That is the right of Publix to make a decision like that, but I also have the right to call it out,” tweeted Mr. Guttenberg on May 29. “To be clear, this became political because of the donation to Putnam and the lack of response from Publix until there was an outcry. The victims in Parkland did not make this political.”

Meanwhile, critics have accused Mr. Hogg of using the protest threat to extort money from Publix in what the Conservative Tribune called a “liberal shakedown.”

Mr. Hogg also called on Publix to “never support an A rated NRA politician again.”

Others have noted that any number of Florida companies, including the Walt Disney Co., have pitched in on behalf of the Putnam campaign.

“[S]ingling out Publix over the issue is ridiculous,” said the Lakeland Ledger in a June 1 editorial, headlined, “Publix, Putnam are not the bad guys.”

“If Hogg, Guttenberg and their ilk were sincere and consistent, they would also protest Disney, Allstate, Universal and countless other companies that have donated to Putnam,” said the editorial. “That doesn’t seem to be happening — yet.”

Publix, which has donated in the past to both Republicans and Democrats, said it would suspend and reevaluate its corporate-funded political contributions amid pressure from activists, including calls for a boycott.

Gun-control activists have notched a series of corporate victories following the Parkland shooting, which left 17 dead.

More than a dozen brands, including airlines and rental-car firms, have ended their discounts for NRA members, while firearms retailers like Walmart and Kroger have raised the gun-buying age at their stores from 18 to 21.

In addition to raising the minimum age, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced in April that it would stop selling “assault-style weapons” and destroy the ones left on the shelves.

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