Who is Julie Jenkins Fancelli? GOP megadonor and Publix heiress reportedly donated to rally before Capitol riot
The family owns 20 percent of Publix, which has more than 1,200 grocery stores across Southeastern US
A Wall Street Journal investigation has found a number of key allies of former President Donald Trump including far-right media person Alex Jones and Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heir to the Publix supermarket fortune, which helped to fund the rally that preceded the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, leaving five dead.
According to a Wall Street Journal article published on January 30, Fancelli "paid for the lion's share of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse," which former President Donald Trump spoke at. She reportedly contributed about $300,000 to the rally, while far-right web show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones pitched in about $50,000. The WSJ report says that Fancelli had reached out to Jones about contributing and that the heiress also had a hand in selecting organizers such as fundraising official Caroline Wren.
As soon as the article came to light, people called on Publix for the response to the heiress' alleged involvement. From the @PublixHelps account on Twitter, the company has distanced itself from Fancelli saying: "Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions."
Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.— PublixHelps (@PublixHelps) January 30, 2021
Fancelli, daughter of the Publix Super Markets founder, contacted Mr Jones and offered to contribute to a January 6 event, organizers said. Jones connected her to an organizer through Ms Wren, who handled the funding as she helped coordinate the logistics of a rally with Women for America First. A Publix spokeswoman said Ms Fancelli isn’t involved in the company’s business operations and doesn’t “represent the company in any way.”
After being initially arranged by Jones, Fancelli tapped Caroline Wren, a top fundraising official on the Trump 2020 campaign, to organize and fund the rally on her behalf.
According to records, Wren and her fundraising consultancy firm were paid $730,000 by the Trump campaign and a joint GOP committee in the 2020 election cycle.
Jones himself also contributed more than $50,000 in seed money to the event in exchange for a 'top speaking slot of his choice', according to the Wall Street Journal. She has also donated $525,900 to the Republican National Committee.
Fancelli, who is a very strong Trump supporter previously donated more than $980,000 to the Trump campaign and Republican Party during the last election cycle. She is an heir to Florida-based Publix Super Markets, established by her father in 1930, making her a member of one of the richest families in America.
As of December 2020, Forbes listed the Jenkins family as the 39th richest in the US, with a worth of $8.8 billion. The family owns 20 percent of Publix, which has more than 1,200 grocery stores across Southeastern America. The other 80 percent is employee-owned, making it the largest employee-owned company in the country.
Founded by her father George, who died in 1996, it is now chaired by his grandson William E 'Ed' Crenshaw. Jennifer Jenkins and Howard Jenkins also sit on the board. The company made $38 billion in revenue in 2019, according to Forbes.
According to the Broward News-Times, the Fancelli family holds no decision-making power at Publix and has no business with the supermarket chain. Yet it had been making as much as $1.7 million a year to vendor Alma Foods, a company Julie Jenkins Fancelli once owned.
After Fancelli exited from the company in 2017, Publix stopped using Alma Foods as a vendor. Publix was the center of controversy in 2018 after the company gave tons of cash to then–gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, a strong supporter of the NRA.
Parkland survivor David Hogg held a number of 'die-in' protests outside their stores as a result. Fancelli was born in Lakeland, Florida, and remains there, along with most of her siblings. She met her husband, Mauro, while on a study-abroad year in Florence, Italy, when she was a University of Florida student. In 2016, sister Carol Jenkins Barnett, who is worth $2 billion, infamously donated $800,000 to a campaign to keep marijuana illegal in Florida, according to Broward News Times.