Publix is a supermarket chain where shopping is a pleasure and where a portion of every dollar you spend on a beefsteak tomato seems to go into the coffers of some of America's most controversial political figures and campaigns. Company founder George W. Jenkins died in 1996, but his very rich, mostly Lakeland-based children are very much alive and still active in the political process. One of his kids, Carol Jenkins Barnett, infamously donated $800,000 in 2016 to a campaign to keep medical marijuana illegal in Florida, for example.
Another wing of Jenkins' family, the Fancelli clan, also seems to love funneling money to conservative causes. Last year, New Times reported that three of Jenkins' heirs — Jenkins' daughter Julie Jenkins Fancelli and two of her children — had sent maximum federal donations to Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign and funneled $25,000 to Trump ally Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Now a review of federal records recently published online shows Julie Jenkins Fancelli continued funneling cash to the Trump Victory political action committee in 2019. As New Times noted last year, she gave $5,600 to the PAC in March. In July, she sent the committee a $100,000 check, and she donated $35,500 in August and $30,000 in October, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. The FEC says she gave a total of $171,100 to Trump Victory last year.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Federal law says individuals cannot donate more than $2,800 to a candidate per election cycle, but no such limit exists for donations to political action committees thanks to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Publix spokespeople told New Times last year that the Fancelli family does not have any business with the supermarket chain and holds no decision-making power over the company. But that was not always the case: For nearly two decades, Publix regularly bought supplies from Alma Foods, a company Julie Jenkins Fancelli once owned. In 1996, the Sun Sentinel reported that Publix had been funneling as much as $1.7 million to Alma Foods per year. Securities and Exchange Commission records show Fancelli left that company in 2017 — and Publix stopped using Alma Foods as a vendor.
The Publix company itself is also not immune to criticism: The company regularly donates to conservative politicians and faced a series of "die-in" protests from Parkland survivor David Hogg in 2018 after the company gave tons of cash to then–gubernatorial candidate and self-admitted "NRA sellout" Adam Putnam.