Chicago businessman and mayoral candidate Willie Wilson plans to give away $1 million in food and gas, his spokesman said in a news release.
Wilson will donate through partnerships with senior buildings, Cermak Fresh Markets, and Pete’s Market’s, but he will announce more details Friday, with the new giveaway set to kick off Monday. In a statement, Wilson lamented the high cost of groceries and said “soaring inflation is causing pain on household budgets throughout Illinois.”
“I see and hear the pain of my fellow citizens and I must help,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s charitable giving raises thorny questions about a political candidate providing handouts to potential voters. In April, Wilson gave away $1 million in gas. He also gave away $1.2 million in free gas over two events at several city and suburban gas stations.
Citing skyrocketing gasoline prices in recent months, Wilson — who has a history of practicing sometimes unorthodox, grassroots philanthropy — has said he is just trying to help struggling residents.
Four years ago, state election officials cleared Wilson of violating election law after he was accused as a mayoral candidate of improperly mixing politics and charity work when he handed out tens of thousands of dollars to potential voters at a South Side church.
After his latest giveaway in April, Wilson said he wasn’t worried about anyone raising similar claims this time around because he’s been “consistent” about giving money to those in need for more than 25 years. Those who might have an issue with his philanthropy leading up to and during elections in which he is a candidate should “look at themselves,” he said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot followed Wilson by pushing aldermen to pass a plan to hand out 50,000 gas cards, worth $150 each, and 100,000 Chicago Transit Authority fare cards, $50 each, though she denied it was in response to his actions.
She had earlier announced the launch of a guaranteed basic income plan to provide direct monthly cash handouts to 5,000 local families.
Lightfoot has not formally declared that she’ll seek a second term in next February’s election, but she’s widely expected to run again. In addition to Wilson, 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez and State Rep. Kam Buckner have announced their candidacies.
via Chicago Tribune
May 19, 2022 at 11:36PM