A Democrat running for mayor of Chicago reportedly handed out $300,000 in cash to parishioners and potential voters at a south-side church on Sunday.
Willie Wilson is said to be a millionaire businessman. The funds came from his Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company, according to WGN-TV.
Wilson says he gave away the cash out of sympathy for those paying high 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,” Wilson was reported as saying to church goers.
Critics were quick to question the ethics and legality of a candidate giving money to potential voters. “Check this out if you wonder why Illinois politicians are often a national joke,” Republican State Rep. David McSweeney tweeted. “How can Willie Wilson, a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, literally hand out CASH at a public event? This is so wrong!”
Check this out if you wonder why Illinois politicians are often a national joke. How can Willie Wilson, a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, literally hand out CASH at a public event? This is so wrong!
— Rep. David McSweeney (@1980reagan) July 22, 2018
Despite the event taking place in the midst of Wilson’s political campaign, spokesman F. Scott Winslow insisted the cash giveaway was “absolutely not” campaign related.
The Illinois State Board of Elections said Wilson didn’t break any campaign finance laws because the money came from his non-profit foundation.
Wilson is one of ten challengers who are facing incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel. WBRC reports Wilson has raised nearly $293,000 for his campaign, with almost all of it coming from personal loans he made to the campaign.
Watch a video posted by an attendee: