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Florida ag commissioner gets Publix support for gubernatorial bid

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and retail giant Publix share more than a common origin — Polk County, FL — both are invested in Putnam becoming the state’s next governor. Publix, which has 812 Florida stores and is one of the state’s largest private employers, has given more money to Putnam's bid for governor than any other candidate since the mid-90s, according to the Tampa Bay Times.put

"Publix, the heirs to the company's founder and its current and former leaders have given Putnam $670,000 in the last three years,” according to the report. "The employee-owned company has also helped bankroll a handful of well-connected business groups who have contributed millions of dollars to the Republican candidate."

Putnam currently oversees regulation of the company's stores and heads the department that conducts health safety inspections at grocery stores.

In 2016, WFTS-Channel 28 reported that seven Publix stores failed health inspections, after which Putnam removed inspections from the department's website and changed the pass-fail grading system so the worst rating would be re-inspection required. Putnam reportedly said the change was made to clarify that a failing grade did not indicate a store needed to be shut down.

Publix has reportedly backed Putnam since his 1996 campaign for state House of Representatives, though that contribution was only $500.

"Adam Putnam is proud to have strong support from one of Florida's most well-known and well-respected businesses that provides more than 100,000 jobs for hard-working Floridians," Putnam spokeswoman Amanda Bevis said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.