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Chicago mayoral candidate hands out cash to potential voters — $300,000, to be specific

Willie Wilson, a Chicago mayoral candidate, hands out $300,000 to potential voters on Sunday morning at a church on the city's south side. (Image source: WGN-TV video screenshot)

Willie Wilson, a candidate for Chicago mayor — and millionaire businessman to boot — handed out $300,000 in cash to potential voters.

According to WGN-TV, Wilson doled out the money to about 2,000 people on Sunday morning at a church on the city's south side.

The funds were disbursed through the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and incumbent Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) — who is seeking re-election — also attended the event.

WGN reported that Wilson was moved to hand out the money to help owners who are struggling to pay their property tax bills.

“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, according to the station.

The station reported that Wilson's campaign manager was adamant that his decision to hand out the money was not campaign-related.

Wilson is one of 10 candidates in Chicago's mayoral race.

What have others said about this?

Republican state Rep. David McSweeney tweeted criticism over Wilson's philanthropy.

He wrote, “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!”

F. Scott Winslow, who is Wilson's campaign spokesperson, told WGN that the Sunday church event was "absolutely not" a campaign-related event.

“While he happens to be a candidate, he’s been a philanthropist for 30 years,” Winslow told the station, and was adamant that the Wilson campaign did not violate any campaign finance laws as the event was orchestrated through Wilson's nonprofit foundation, and not through the campaign.

What did the governor say?

Despite Winslow's protests, WGN reported that the church event "felt" like a campaign event, as Rauner addressed the church crowd during the event.

The governor talked about campaign tentpoles, and also touched upon Wilson's property tax philanthropy, pushing his own agenda — in which, according to WGN — "Rauner routinely rails against high property taxes."

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

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