Dem mayoral candidate in Chicago hands out cash to potential voters

A millionaire Democratic candidate for Chicago mayor reportedly handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to church members on Sunday to help them pay their property taxes.

“My wife and I have been blessed by God to be able to get a few of the material things out of life and so it’s up to us to now — continually to share back with all of you all and others,” Willie Wilson, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, said in remarks at an event at New Covenant Missionary Baptist church on Chicago's South Side, according to WGN News.

A Wilson aide said the candidate gave out $300,000 to 2,000 people through his nonprofit charitable foundation.

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F. Scott Winslow, a spokesman for Wilson’s mayoral campaign, told WGN News that there was no violation of campaign finance laws since the event was not connected to the campaign. He added that Wilson has donated about $500,000 since his campaign launch.

“While he happens to be a candidate, he’s been a philanthropist for 30 years,” Winslow said.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), who is up for reelection in November, also spoke at the event, where he discussed his efforts to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system and improve education funding. He briefly discussed property taxes.

“You pay the highest property taxes in America here in Chicago, and the South Side and the south suburbs,“ Rauner said at the event. “This is wrong. The system is broken and I’m trying to fix it.”

State lawmakers from both parties questioned the nature of the event.

“What the hell? Is Bruce Rauner using Willie Wilson and [Pastor] Corey Brooks to buy votes???” wrote Democratic state Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch on Twitter. “Handing out cash in the Black Church. Smh!  How about creating jobs dudes!”

GOP state Rep. David McSweeney called it “so wrong.”

“Check this out if you wonder why Illinois politicians are often a national joke,” McSweeney tweeted. “How can Willie Wilson, a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, literally hand out CASH at a public event? This is so wrong!”