CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson is defending his decision to hand out out hundreds of thousands of dollars to potential voters at a Southside church Sunday.
More than $200,000 in cash and checks was given away by the wealthy businessman at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church; but it was the cash the raised eyebrows, including the ire of Governor Bruce Rauner.
Wilson said he is not apologizing for his actions.
“Do you see anything wrong with having handed out cash as a mayoral candidate?” asked CBS 2’s Political Reporter Derrick Blakley.
“I do not. That was my personal money that I give to people who otherwise don’t have I.D., got out of prison, don’t have I.D., but they’re hungry,” Wilson responded.
Governor Bruce Rauner, who was also at the church services, says he sees things differently.
“The idea if you’re handing out cash if you’re a candidate for office is outrageous. It should not have happened,” the Governor said. “I learned, after the fact, and I was pretty upset when I heard it was going on.”
Rauner also gave Wilson large sums of money over the past two years to help African American homeowners with property tax relief.
“I gave him $100,000 last year and in the last month or two, I gave another $100,000, at his request, to help people pay their property taxes,” Rauner stated.
When asked if the money handed out Sunday was part of the sum of money that Governor Rauner gave him, Wilson replied: “Absolutely not.”
Wilson insists Rauner’s money was handed out in checks, not cash. Campaign watchdogs won’t call it buying votes, but cannot believe the handout won’t help Wilson somewhat at the polls.
“This feels very much like the way the old Chicago machine used to work,” stated Jay Young of Common Cause Illinois.
No one has said Willie Wilson broke any campaign finance laws since the money came from his foundation. Wilson pointed out the campaign hasn’t official begun. Petitions to get on the ballot cannot be filled until the fall.