Fact Check

Did Publix Heiress Donate $300K To Fund the Capitol Riot?

A Wall Street Journal investigation revealed a major donor to the Trump campaign.

Published Feb 2, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: President Trump speaks from a Jumbotron screen as crowds gather for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.(Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
Image Via Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Claim:
Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress to the Publix supermarket chain, donated $300,000 to help fund the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
What's True

Fancelli donated $300,000 to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign, which went on to cover the majority of the costs of the Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., at which Trump spoke. The rally led to rioting at the U.S. Capitol.

What's False

There is no evidence that Fancelli’s donation directly supported the riot, which occurred after the rally.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded a violent riot in the U.S. Capitol was funded by a small yet prominent group of Trump supporters — one of whom came from a family that owns a well-known grocery chain empire.

A Wall Street Journal investigation from Jan. 30 found that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress to Publix supermarkets, had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Trump campaign, and some of that money covered the costs of the Trump rally that led to rioting at the Capitol.

Snopes readers asked us if Fancelli’s donations directly funded the violent riot where a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol before they were dispersed by law enforcement. WSJ learned that she directly gave money to the Trump campaign, which supported the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the riots. There is no evidence that her money went to support the rioters, who were egged on by Trump during his speech at the rally.

According to the WSJ report, far-right media personality Alex Jones helped arrange for Fancelli’s donation, in addition to donating $50,000 himself to the Jan. 6 event. Fancelli's $300,000 donation covered the lion's share of costs for the Trump rally at the Ellipse, which amounted to $500,000. Records showed that Fancelli donated more than $980,000 in the 2020 election cycle to a joint account for the Trump campaign and Republican Party.

Fancelli is the daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins. After news about her donation broke, Publix posted a statement on Twitter 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."

But many still tweeted #BoycottPublix in response to the report:

The company also condemned the violence at the Capitol:

Fancelli’s donation went toward funding the Trump rally that led to the riot, but there is no evidence that her money directly supported the rioting, though Trump’s speech was instrumental in the mob's targeting the Capitol. As such, we rate this claim a “Mixture.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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