On Twitter over the past few days, people have been posting receipts showing they're shopping elsewhere after Publix donated $670,000 to Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam, who's an outspoken supporter of the NRA. And now there's fresh evidence that the Publix Boycott may be a sign of things to come.
But campaigning finance records show Publix isn't the only company giving big money to politicians.
State election records show Disney also contributed $514,000 to Adam Putnam's campaign.
And it's not just Republicans racking in corporate money, either. Records show Democrat Senator Bill Nelson has collected big checks from big companies, ranging from Comcast and Delta to Blue Cross. Disney also gave money to Nelson.
Erich Kron with KnowBe4, a cyber security firm based in Clearwater, says the growing backlash against Publix and other companies that have taken a political stance that don't always align with the their customers' beliefs, is a clear sign that social media engineering is no longer a skill reserved for Russian hackers or hi-tech lobbyists. Everyone is now playing the persuasion game.
"I think when it comes to the political things, you’re able to get your voice out there in front of a lot more people. When it comes to trying to rally things, a lot of it is now in twitter, or even Reddit at this point is getting a lot of traffic," says Kron.
Eric Johnson is the co-founder of Kabinger, a new app developed in Tampa Bay that's incentivizing consumers to shop local, giving them the power to vote with their dollar.
"That’s been a big strength of Kabinger is the networking; reaching out to single people who network through their groups, and we think it can have the same impact politically," says Johnson.
Meanwhile Publix is responding to the criticism. The grocery chain released this statement:
"As the largest private employer in the state of Florida, and with the majority of our stores and our corporate headquarters located here as well, we have a history of supporting candidates focused on job growth and a healthy Florida economy. 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 cares about our associates, customers and the communities we serve. It is important to understand that the vast majority of our giving is focused on organizations whose mission supports youth, education and the plight of the hungry and homeless within our area of operation. 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."