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Publix feels heat for backing "NRA sellout" for Florida governor

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Some Parkland, Florida, school-shooting survivors are among those calling for a boycott of Publix, a large, regional grocer facing a public backlash for bankrolling a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association for governor.

The Florida chain found itself under fire after the Tampa Bay Times reported Publix had given $670,000 during the last three years to back the gubernatorial bid of Adam Putnam, a Republican who's currently the state's agricultural commissioner. 

Since the mass shooting at the Parkland high school, Putnam has drawn the ire of gun control advocates by opposing the state's new restrictions on gun purchases, as well as by describing himself as a "proud NRA sellout."

While Publix quickly tried to distance its support for Putnam from any perceived support of the NRA, it fell on deaf ears among some.

Parkland survivor Alex Wind was among those to express displeasure at Publix's support of Putnam, saying in a tweet: "I guess I should've bought my flowers for the memorials somewhere else."

Pulse nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf also tweeted his support for a boycott of Publix, saying he had been a patron but would switch to Whole Foods. 

David Hogg, another Parkland student-turned-activist, tweeted that he'll "buy his chocolate muffins elsewhere" after learning of Publix's political contributions.

The backlash prompted Publix, which initially issued a statement saying it supported "bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates," to take to social media to state it has not provided financial support to the NRA. 

Reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, Publix, Florida's largest private employer, struck a conciliatory tone and suggested future political donations might be handled differently.

"We regret that some of our political contributions have led to an unintentional customer divide instead of our desire to support a growing economy in Florida," Publix said in an emailed statement. "As a result of this situation, we are evaluating our processes to ensure that our giving better reflects our intended desire to support a strong economy and a healthy community."

After the Parkland shootings, companies including MetLife and Hertz cut ties with the gun rights group.

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