Willie Wilson exonerated for cash giveaway

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayoral Candidate Dr. Willie Wilson has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a cash giveaway last month.

The Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to exonerate Wilson, who was accused of mixing politics and charity work

At a July 22 cash giveaway at a South Side church, Wilson handed out $40,000 of his own money to needy people. He also wrote checks worth $200,000 from his charitable foundation to help people with their property taxes.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform filed a complaint about the event.

"It was a nonsense complaint, we proved it was a nonsense, the hearing officer found for us, the board found for us, and the legal counsel also found for us," said Wilson's attorney, Frank Avila.

Wilson called the complaint a nuisance to his campaign, and slammed those who brought it.

"People should be a damn ashamed of themselves, the lawyers who got up there talking about campaign reform," Wilson said.

The attorney who brought the complaint said there was nothing to be ashamed of.

"This is not an attempt to prevent him from giving money to anybody or stop him from giving money. It's simply and attempt to make sure that you keep very separate giving money separate from political activities," said Senior Advisor for Illinois Campaign for Political Reform David Melton.

Wilson already has two more giveaways in the works, including one Sunday at a south side church.

"We will not stop, and I'll die first and go to heaven before I stop helping poor people," Wilson said.

Wilson will be at the Cook County Treasurer's office Tuesday to help people on the last day they can pay their property taxes.

"That will be the final giveaway, as Dr. Wilson said, from the foundation until after the election so that the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and another do-gooders who mean well will have no other reason to come after Dr. Wilson," said Wilson's Campaign Manager Rickey Hendon.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform argued that whether Wilson's violation was intentional or inadvertent, he should have had to report the $240,000 he gave away as an in-kind donation to his campaign.

Wilson's campaign maintains it was not a political event because there were no signs and no campaign speeches.
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