The Publix heiress who bankrolled the Donald Trump rally that preceded the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack has donated money to another controversial cause — a congressional candidate who called J6 defendants "political prisoners," schmoozed with extremist Nick Fuentes, and supported a right-wing outfit known for violent clashes with left-wing groups.
Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of late Publix Super Markets founder George W. Jenkins, has been offloading money to GOP campaigns and causes for years. In 2020, Fancelli sent the maximum federal donation to Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign. She proffered $3 million to back the January 6 rally, its organizers, and supporting groups, ultimately donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cause, the Washington Post reported. In July 2022, Fancelli gave $50,000 to Moms for Liberty, marking the first major contribution to the political action committee linked to the conservative group known for its school book-banning efforts across Florida.
Most recently, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records indicate Fancelli donated more than $13,000 to Republican Joe Kent, a Washington congressional candidate and military veteran who has been criticized for his support of far-right figures and groups.
On June 7, Fancelli gave $6,600 to the Joe Kent Victory Fund PAC and another $6,600 to Joe Kent for Congress, totaling $13,200 in donations to the candidate, according to FEC records.
Kent is vying to represent Washington's 3rd congressional district in 2024 after previously losing a bid for the seat to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. Since January, records show the Joe Kent Victory Fund PAC has raised more than $361,000, while Joe Kent for Congress has raked in more than $204,000.
Kent became a politician after serving in the military for 20 years, during which he was deployed as a U.S. Army Green Beret multiple times. The Oregon native has appeared as a guest on Steve Bannon's War Room, Alex Jones' Infowars channel, and Tucker Carlson Tonight.
A July 2022 Associated Press story reported that Kent was a political ally of Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer, and hired a member of the militant Proud Boys as a campaign consultant.
In a July 2021 video, Kent openly voiced support for Patriot Prayer, a group that organized increasingly tense rallies between 2017 and 2020 in Portland and Seattle, some of which descended into violent confrontations between left-wing activists and members of Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys. After a brawl with purported Antifa members outside the Cider Riot ciderhouse in Portland in 2019, members of Patriot Prayer pleaded guilty to riot charges. In July 2022, a judge cleared Gibson of charges stemming from the incident.
Kent hosted a call early in his first congressional campaign to discuss strategy with extremist Nick Fuentes, founder of the "Groyper Army," who said Kent praised his social media presence. Kent later disavowed the anti-Semite in March 2022, saying he did not want Fuentes' endorsement on account of Fuentes' exclusionary, white nationalist message. Kent's reproach led Fuentes to go on repeated public tirades about the candidate, including one in which he declared, "You're not going to take our support and then throw us under the bus."
At a 2022 event organized by Kent's political aide Matt Braynard to show solidarity with defendants charged in the Capitol riot, Kent made a spirited speech in which he referred to the defendants as "political prisoners."
According to Braynard, Kent's "inclusive populism rejects racism and bigotry and invites all Americans to support his aggressive America First agenda of rebuilding our industries, ending illegal immigration, and stopping stupid military interventions that don't directly support our national interest."
Publix did not respond to New Times' requests for comment, and attempts to reach Fancelli were unsuccessful.
Publix spokespeople previously told New Times that the Fancelli family is not involved in the management of the supermarket chain and holds no decision-making power over the company. A 2018 financial filing states that the prior year, Publix purchased food from Alma Foods, a supplier owned by Fancelli, but that "subsequent to April 2017, Julia Jenkins Fancelli has no ownership of Alma."
Fancelli grew up in Lakeland, Florida, home of Publix's headquarters. According to Forbes, the Jenkins family had an $8.8 billion fortune as of 2020, making it one of the wealthiest families in America.