Dear Readers,

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay and to so many businesses in our community. Here at the Tampa Bay Times, we continue to provide free, up-to-date information at as a public service. But we need your help. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or donating, and by sharing our work. Thank you.

  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Father of Parkland victim: ‘I am extremely annoyed at Publix’

Publix's CEO Todd Jones won't be meeting with victims of the shooting and Publix won't be donating to a victims fund, Fred Guttenberg claimed.
File photo of a Publix supermarket location. [SCOTT KEELER | TIMES file photo]

Publix made a series of political donations to a staunch ally of the National Rifle Association. Controversy ensued. Now, the company won't be donating to a Parkland victims fund because such a move would be too political.

That's what Fred Guttenberg, the father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, claimed in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon.

Guttenberg tweeted that Publix CEO Todd Jones told him Tuesday that last Friday's highly publicized die-in made it politically untenable for Jones to visit Parkland.

"He had the gall to say to me that because the die in made this so political that he would not be able to come down here to meet with the Parkland kids and families," Guttenberg tweeted, "and that Publix would not be making any donation to the victims fund."

A spokesman for Publix, Florida's largest private corporation, did not immediately respond to questions about Guttenberg's claims.

News of the supermarket chain's support for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, which was the Tampa Bay Times reported May 15, ignited a political firestorm. Liberal activists, including survivors of the February Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, took exception to Publix supporting a vocal NRA supporter in Putnam. They organized  boycotts on social media and on Friday, many participated in a "die-in" at at least one south Florida Publix location.

Minutes before that demonstration began, Publix announced that it would suspend political contributions.

"We regret that our contributions have led to a divide in our community," the company said in a statement.

Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday that Publix made the choice to enter the political arena, and they are now facing the consequences.

"To be clear, this became political because of the donation to Putnam and the lack of response from Publix until there was an outcry," Guttenberg tweeted. "The victims in Parkland did not make this political."

Previous coverage: Publix is supporting Adam Putnam's run for governor like no politician before

Previous coverage: Publix suspends political contributions amid statewide protests