By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Denying he attempted to buy votes by giving away $300,000 to the needy, self-made multi-millionaire businessman Dr. Willie Wilson turned the tables on his accusers, blaming elected officials for shortening the window homeowners have to pay their overdue bills from a year, to nine months.
The controversy began Sunday when Wilson, accompanied by Governor Bruce Rauner gave $100,000 of $300,000 to 2,000 people at the New Covenant Baptist Church, 754 E. 77th Street in Chicago. The church, headed by Reverend Dr. Stephen J. Thurston has held several similar events.
“I am not trying to buy votes,” said Wilson. “Check my record and see. It’s our money. The governor gave $100,000 and I added $200,000. These funds come from my Willie Wilson Foundation which is a 501 (c) (3) organization, and it has nothing to do with my mayoral campaign.
“People had to apply for these funds through the foundation, but some people from the neighborhood came and many did not have ID. I gave them money anyway because it was the right thing to do, and I’ll do it again,” he said.
“I give people money out of my own pocket all the time…people like those who just got out of jail and don’t have any money, others living in shelters and don’t have ID and then there are the seniors who can’t pay their property taxes, which by the way, are going up once again in August,” he stated.
“I will continue to do this because I support the people in the community. I care about them, which is more than what some elected officials are doing. The legislators and aldermen are the ones who are breaking the law. They should be in jail.”
Explaining, Dr. Wilson said, “They’ve moved the time people can pay their taxes, shortened that time which allows tax scavengers to buy their property and that’s wrong.” He accused legislators of creating financial hardships on indigent homeowners who he said need more time to pay their taxes to avoid being on the tax scavenger list.
While Wilson has been giving money away for more than 30-years, this was his fourth year of holding a money giveaway from his foundation. “We don’t lend people money. We give it to them. Where are the politicians? What are they doing to help the people? We got to get the right people in office.”
But, Democrat and Republican legislators didn’t believe Wilson’s money giveaway was a humanitarian act. Neither gave Wilson any slack. “What the hell? Is Bruce Rauner using Willie Wilson and Corey Brooks to buy votes???,” State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-7th) tweeted. Welch was wrong about the minister. Dr. Thurston is the pastor of the church, not Brooks.
Representative David McSweeney (R-52nd) also took a swipe at Wilson, tweeting, “How can Willie Wilson, a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, literally hand out CASH at a public event? This is so wrong!”
However, when contacted, Jim Allen, a spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said, “We have received no such complaint.”
Saying he has not broken any election laws, Dr. Wilson said, “All of a sudden I’m accused of trying to buy votes when I’m doing what I’ve been doing for years, trying to help people. We had checks and cash. Some of the checks have not been given out because the people were not present. We will give them out next Sunday.
“We had 500 people from the neighborhood who came so I just went into my pocket and gave them cash money.” To his critics, Dr. Wilson added, “I’ll continue to help those in need. The question is, what are they doing”?
Governor Rauner, who is up for re-election, said he did not know about the money give-away.