A grocery store heiress provided some three-fifths of the funding for then-President Donald Trump‘s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally immediately preceding the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex, according to multiple media reports.
According to an exposé by the Wall Street Journal‘s Shalini Ramachandran, Alexandra Berzon and Rebecca Ballhaus released on Saturday, the conspiracy theory-fueled event came together, in large financial part, under the tutelage of Austin, Texas-based fake news purveyor Alex Jones. The nation’s preeminent conspiracy theorist reportedly then connected with Publix grocery store heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli, who spent $300,000 on organizing the speeches intended to somehow overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The total cost of the fateful rally was some $500,000.
From that report:
Mr. Jones personally pledged more than $50,000 in seed money for a planned Jan. 6 event in exchange for a guaranteed “top speaking slot of his choice,” according to a funding document outlining a deal between his company and an early organizer for the event.
Mr. Jones also helped arrange for Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a prominent donor to the Trump campaign and heiress to the Publix Super Markets Inc. chain, to commit about $300,000 through a top fundraising official for former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, according to organizers. Her money paid for the lion’s share of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse where Mr. Trump spoke.
Publix quickly moved to distance itself from the supermarket scion’s generous spending on behalf of the former president.
“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,” a statement released late Saturday said. “We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.”
The Florida-based grocery store chain also made an effort to disavow the violence that ensued after Trump’s adherents made the quick trek from The Ellipse, a park just south of the White House lawn, to the national seat of legislative government.
“The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy,” the chain’s statement continued. “The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets.”
The Journal report goes on to note that Fancelli, the daughter of the chain’s founder, personally reached out to Jones and “offered to contribute to a Jan. 6 event,” according to organizers. Social media activists had long pushed for some sort of confrontation on the date in question because that was the day the U.S. Congress does a formal, symbolic, and legally critical count of Electoral College votes.
Jones then reportedly put Fancelli in contact with GOP fundraising official Caroline Wren. At least four additional former Trump campaign staffers also played a role in organizing the event, “according to the permit and Federal Election Commission [FEC] records.”
FEC records also show that Fancelli contributed nearly $1 million to Republican Party electoral efforts in 2020 alone.
George Jenkins, the founder of Publix, died in the 1990s. None of his children run the company anymore but do hold substantial amounts of ownership via company stock.
[image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
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