Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson walked into a South Side church on Sunday flanked by Illinois governor Bruce Rauner and handed out $200,000 in checks and cash to around 2,000 churchgoers, or $100 each, reports the Chicago Sun Times.
Wilson, a millionaire businessman and Rauner who is up for reelection, made it rain at the Covenant Missionary Baptist Church through the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, a 501(c)(3). He says he organized the giveaway to assist homeowners who are struggling to pay their property tax bills.
And he acknowledged that, when he holds such an event, people tend to show up without having contacted his foundation first. Some don’t even have ID. But he said he doesn’t turn them away.
“I keep money on me just to give it out,” Wilson said. “We don’t turn them down. We give what we can give them.” -Chicago Sun Times
"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 told church members during the event.
"We’ve been paying people’s property taxes for years,” Wilson said, adding that the money was also meant to help people pay for smaller expenses, like food or bus passes. -Chicago Sun Times
While the cash giaway was originally listed as $300,000 on his foundation's website, Wilson told the Chicago Sun Times that he gave away close to $200,000. When reached for comment, Wilson's campaign spokesman F. Scott Winsow told WGN news that Sunday's cash giveaway was "absolutely not" a campaign event, and that Wilson just gives cash to people all the time.
“While he happens to be a candidate, he’s been a philanthropist for 30 years,” Winslow said.
Willie Wilson literally handing out cash at New Covenant Baptist Church this morning. pic.twitter.com/CXdlS4EufO— Tahman Bradley (@tahmanbradley) July 22, 2018
In 2016, Wilson spent $15,000 posting bond for inmates at the Cook County jail:
Chicago politicos on both sides of the aisle remained unconvinced...
“What the hell? Is Bruce Rauner using Willie Wilson and Corey Brooks to buy votes???” tweeted State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, a Democrat.
What the hell? Is Bruce Rauner using Willie Wilson and Corey Brooks to buy votes??? Handing out cash in the Black Church. Smh! How about creating jobs dudes! https://t.co/gy5lACDRib— Emanuel Chris Welch (@RepChrisWelch) July 22, 2018
“Check this out if you wonder why Illinois politicians are often a national joke,” tweeted state Rep. David McSweeney (R). “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
Wilson didn't let the haters get to him. “I think people try to make political hay out of it because they don’t got nothing else on me,” he said.
Governor Rauner used the opportunity to grace the churchgoers with his tax agenda - railing against high property taxes.
“You pay the highest property taxes in America here in Chicago and the South Side and the south suburbs, “ said Rauner. “This is wrong. The system is broken and I’m trying to fix it.”