Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is running for re-election, has come under fire for attending an event at a Chicago church where a political ally also running for office handed out more than $200,000 to attendees, according to Politico.
On Sunday, Rauner spoke to a church on Chicago’s South Side, where he declared, “We’re honored to help you pay your property taxes.”
After Rauner left the church, Willie Wilson, a Republican challenging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, distributed stacks of cash and checks to people inside.
Some of the money, Wilson told Politico, came from his foundation, and around $100,000 of it came from Rauner.
Rauner’s campaign manager told Politico that Rauner’s comments about paying property taxes were about his work with Wilson’s foundation and not about the cash handout that followed his speech. On Monday, Rauner criticized Wilson for handing out the cash and insisted that he did not know of Wilson’s plan. His campaign spokesman relayed the criticism to Politico:
Governor Rauner has supported the Willie Wilson Foundation to help people hurt by the rigged property tax system in Cook County. 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.
He told the Chicago Tribune that he had come to speak at Wilson’s request and that he wouldn’t approve of Wilson handing out the $100,000 he had given to his foundation at a campaign event. He told the Tribune that if any of his donations had been handed out, he would ask for his money back:
Doing assistance for property tax payments for people who got checked and went through a process and got their name vetted and they got checks—that was a proper process. That’s what I was told my money went for and I’m fine with that. I did it last year. I did it this year. And I’d do it again next year. It has nothing to do with electioneering.
The state elections board concluded afterward that Wilson had not violated election law, as the money had come from his foundation and not the campaign, according to the Tribune. A campaign spokesman for Wilson told the Tribune that Wilson had given the money to members of the congregation to help them cover the cost of their property taxes as part of his foundation work, and not to buy their votes.