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Gov. Rauner seeks distance from ally who handed out $300k in cash to Illinois voters at church
Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson handed $300,000 in cash to attendees at a local church during an event attended by Gov. Bruce Rauner. (Chris Walker - Pool/Getty Images)

Gov. Rauner seeks distance from ally who handed out $300k in cash to Illinois voters at church

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke at a South Side Chicago church Sunday, and he told the congregation "We're honored to help you pay your property taxes. Happy to do it."

Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, who was also in attendance alongside Rauner, apparently took that sentiment literally, because he later handed out stacks of cash to attendees -- totaling $300,000.

Now, the GOP governor is trying to distance himself from his political ally's actions, which appear to go against Rauner's anti-corruption reputation, and possibly approach the line of being illegal, Politico reported.

"Vote buying was put in the statute for a reason," election attorney Burt Odelson told Politico. "The General Assembly didn't want anyone influenced by direct cash money in their pocket."

Wilson told Politico that $100,000 of the money, which came from his foundation, was from Rauner.

How did Rauner respond?

Rauner had apparently left the event by the time the cash was being handed out (which would protect him legally, if that ever became an issue), and his campaign distanced the governor from the cash.

"Governor Rauner has supported the Willie Wilson Foundation to help people hurt by the rigged property tax system in Cook County," the statement said. "He was not aware that any cash was going to be handed out at the event. The governor respects Dr. Wilson's philanthropic pursuits, but believes distributing cash is inappropriate for any candidate seeking public office."

Pritzker attacks

Rauner is being challenged this November by Democrat J.B. Pritzker, and Pritzker's campaign manager Anne Caprara pounced on the situation via Twitter.

"So let me get this straight," she tweeted. "@BruceRauner, the sitting governor of the state of Illinois, went to church yesterday and watched as $100,000 of his own money was handed out in front of him. A sitting governor who regularly rants against corruption in Springfield, but somehow thinks that handing out cash to voters after a campaign does not smack of corruption????"

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