Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Awarded Vaccine Sites to Publix Just As Publix Heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli Was Funding the January 6 Trump Speech That Launched An Insurrection

The FBI must now determine if these two events were connected, as certainly (1) the cast of characters involved in the two transactions was, and (2) the dates match up.

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We know from the Wall Street Journal that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress to the Publix supermarket fortune, donated the lion’s share of the money that funded the January 6 Donald Trump speech that launched an insurrection.

And we know that the day before Trump’s infamous speech, Governor Ron DeSantis—the chief executive of Trump’s new home state, Florida, and a longtime Trump stooge who has been connected to some of the same campaign finance criminals (Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for instance) Trump has—announced that Fancelli’s Publix would be getting a massive windfall as the chief beneficiary of DeSantis’ bizarre decision to privatize vaccine distribution in Florida by locating it in private businesses like Publix.

Tonight, CBS News revealed that Publix gave $100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, in the weeks before DeSantis’s vaccine-distribution announcement.

Because $50,000 of this money was donated on December 7, 2020, it would be easy to presume that the donations had nothing to do with Trump’s January 6 speech—as indeed, that speech was first advertised by Trump on December 19 on Twitter, and the decision to hold a Trump speech on that day appears to have been made sometime between December 12, when Trump lauded a Stop the Steal event involving his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and his often-quoted “Will be wild!” tweet from December 19.

Yet CBS News reveals that Publix madea second set of donations—$50,000 in total—on December 31, 2020. That date was in the heat of Trump’s publicizing of his Stop the Steal speech at the White House Ellipse scheduled for January 6. More importantly, it was in the midst of Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, and Roger Stone (the three key Stop the Steal co-organizers) trying to raise money for both the event and security for the event.

{Note: Proof first reported Julie Jenkins Fancelli’s critical role in the events leading up to the insurrection in January 2021, in an article entitled, “The 20 Women Who Shaped January 6.” As CBS News notes, Fancelli herself gave Friends of Ron DeSantis $30,000 in October 2018 and $25,000 in October 2019; her brother-in-law then gave DeSantis' PAC another $25,000 just two and a half weeks before the first of the four Publix donations in December 2020.}

FBI investigators might well wonder why a bribe paid by Publix to DeSantis, if in fact that’s what it was—we just don’t know yet—had to be paid in four payments (over two installments 24 days apart). The timing of these payments is made more suspicious by the fact that Publix heiress Fancelli is, as the Wall Street Journal reports, a longtime Trump mega-donor, and that by December 31 not only had Stop the Steal co-organizer Roger Stone gone to Mar-a-Lago to speak to Trump (he did this on December 28, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel) and gone public with his need for funds for the January 6 Trump event (he did this on December 30, via a video he posted online), but it was clear to all Trump supporters that the need to fully fund Trump’s “last stand” in DC was now dire.

From a criminal investigative standpoint, the fact that Publix was still making payments to Gov. Ron DeSantis on December 31, 2020 would suggest that by—say—December 28, 2020, when Stone and Trump were meeting at Mar-a-Lago, or December 30, 2020, when Stone was publicly begging for money for Trump’s Stop the Steal event in DC, DeSantis had not yet made a final decision on using Publix for vaccine distribution in Florida.

If the dates of the Publix payments are any indication, Trump’s top ally in the State of Florida made his final determination about Publix getting a massive windfall with taxpayer money sometime in the 120 hours between January 1 and January 5. It also seems to be during this period, according to Alex Jones, that the key funding for Donald Trump’s now-infamous “incitement to insurrection” speech came through—from a Publix heiress.

According to a video recorded by Alex Jones right after the insurrection (emphasis supplied),

No one would book the [White House] Ellipse, no one would book the other areas [including Lot 8 on the Capitol grounds, where a speech after Trump’s speech was to be held]. No one would pay for it. We went and paid for it—thank God a donor [Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli] came in that paid for like 80% of it, because it cost close to half a million dollars…and then the White House told me [on January 3], three days before [the insurrection], “We’re going to have you lead the march [on the Capitol].”

This sequence of events—with Fancelli’s payment to Stop the Steal obviously coming before Jones’s contact with the White House, per Jones—will be absolutely critical to the FBI’s broader timeline of how the January 6 insurrection came to pass. Indeed, it seems likely that the request to Jones from the White House to lead the March to Save America was made on January 3 in part because Jones had by then managed to secure funding for the event (suggesting that the funding came through very close in time to January 3, but likely after Stone’s December 30 video begging for money for the rally). With this in mind, here’s what this critical portion of the FBI timeline looks like now:

The Publix-Stop the Steal (Fancelli-DeSantis-Trump) Timeline

December 7: Publix pays Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s PAC $50,000.

December 8: Trump flies on Air Force One with DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

December 23: Trump tweets support for DeSantis while traveling on Air Force One.

December 28: Stop the Steal organizer Roger Stone visits Donald Trump in Florida.

December 30: Stop the Steal organizer Roger Stone begs publicly for event money.

December 31: Publix again, inexplicably, pays Ron DeSantis’s PAC $50,000.

Late December-early January: Publix heiress Fancelli pays $300,000 to fund Trump’s speech.

January 1-4: Ron DeSantis decides who will get vaccine distribution sites in Florida.

January 3: Trump asks Stop the Steal’s Alex Jones to lead the post-Ellipse march.

January 5: DeSantis awards vaccine-distribution authority to Fancelli’s Publix.

January 6: Trump’s January 6 speech launches an armed insurrection against America.

January 8: Roger Stone says that, like Jones, he was asked to lead the January 6 march.

What this sequence of events suggests is that Trump and Stop the Steal would have had enormous leverage to get money from a Publix heiress at the time Publix paid $50,000 to Ron DeSantis and she paid $300,000 to Stop the Steal, as Trump’s most powerful Florida ally was about to decide whether to award Publix a massively lucrative state contract. It also suggests that there may have been a sub rosa Trump-Publix-Stop the Steal nexus that brought together two separate conversations: (1) vaccine distribution in Florida, a life-or-death matter affecting millions of U.S. citizens, and (2) the funding of a political event Trump very much needed to see happen, and that “no one” would fund, per Jones.

Keep in mind that, as Proof has reported, Trump knew by late December (or the first 48 hours or so of January 2021) that the Secret Service had determined the Capitol would be dangerous on January 6. Why does this matter (besides the reasons laid out at Proof with respect to the actions of the Secret Service)? Because the timeline above raises one question for the FBI that at first may seem like a thorny one: if, in late December or early January, Stop the Steal desperately needed money to fund Trump’s speech, why didn’t the 2020 Trump campaign just pay for it, or for that matter, Trump himself?

Answer: because they couldn’t. Because the money Stop the Steal was seeking was for two events—one at the Ellipse and one at Lot 8 at the Capitol—both of which, as Jones has said, Trump told Stop the Steal he would attend. So even if Trump believed that the event at the Ellipse would be peaceful, he knew from the Secret Service that the event on the Capitol grounds would not be, so his political operation couldn’t fund it.

In other words, at the moment that Fancelli, the Publix heiress, swooped in to pay Ali Alexander (the convicted felon), Roger Stone (the convicted felon), and Alex Jones (the infamous conspiracy theorist) to host Donald Trump at two large-scale events in DC, those events were on the verge of being cancelled due to lack of funds.

This means that Trump’s political inner circle, which most certainly includes Ron DeSantis, had leverage over Publix and anyone with a financial interest in the success of Publix at a moment when Trump’s entire plan for January 6 was about to fall apart unless a Publix heiress stepped in.

The FBI must begin investigating these events immediately—and Congress should, too.

{Note: Needless to say, none of this occurs in a vacuum. Not only was Ron DeSantis regularly photographed with alleged campaign-finance criminals (and Trump donors) Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, he now faces accusations, as detailed in this CNBC article, that he exhibited political favoritism in his handling of vaccine distribution. While past conduct doesn’t always predict future conduct, Gov. DeSantis has been under a microscope for both his handling of campaign finance matters and his handling of vaccine distribution for some time now. So the possible nexus discussed above fits into a clear pattern of prior (and, arguably, ongoing) illicit conduct—even if, to be sure, much more FBI and Congressional investigation is now needed before any final determination can be made about the conduct of either Fancelli or DeSantis.}


Coda: As a matter of policy, and to distinguish the research, reporting, and analysis in Proof from the journalism of “access journalists” like Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, this outlet never uses known liars as anonymous sources. Indeed, Proof never cites known liars at all unless (a) they are identified by name, (b) their reputation for deceit is transparently communicated to readers, and (c) their statements are corroborated by other evidence. This policy is consistent with what I teach my journalism students at University of New Hampshire. It’s with this caveat that I propose that there is some value in watching CBS News question Governor DeSantis about the appearance of him participating in a “pay-to-play” scheme. Though what DeSantis is saying here is a lie, it is valuable to watch him lying because he is fact-checked “in real time” by the ex post CBS News voiceover: