A millionaire Democratic candidate for Chicago mayor reportedly handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to church members on Sunday to help them pay their property taxes, reports The Hill.
“My wife and I have been blessed by God to be able to get a few of the material things out of life and so it’s up to us to now continually to share back with all of you all and others,” Willie Wilson said in remarks at an event at New Covenant Missionary Baptist church on Chicago's South Side, according to WGN News.
Wilson aide said that the candidate gave out a total of $300,000 to 2,000 people.
F. Scott Winslow, a spokesman for Wilson’s mayoral campaign, told WGN News that there was no violation of campaign finance laws since the event was not connected to the campaign. He added that Wilson has donated about $500,000 since his campaign launch.
“While he happens to be a candidate, he’s been a philanthropist for 30 years,” Winslow said.
According to his website, Wilson Wilson is a 50-year resident of Chicago, having moved to the city in 1965. It is there that he began his legacy of becoming one of the first black owners of a McDonald’s restaurant. In 1970, Wilson was hired by McDonald's to do custodial work including mopping floors for $2 an hour. He was awarded the opportunity to run the establishment when disgruntled employees walked out and he was asked to stay on when the former managers returned.
After working with McDonald’s for 10 years, Wilson decided he wanted to open a McDonald’s himself and resolved to meet with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc about the issue. Kroc agreed to give Wilson a McDonald’s restaurant after a discussion at an annual shareholders’ meeting in 1979, and with capital provided by South Shore Bank, Wilson took a suffering Chicago franchise and turned it around within a year. While working at McDonald’s, Wilson earned several honors including the Outstanding Store Award and Top Sales Performer Award. He would eventually own several McDonald's franchises in the Chicago area.
In 1987, Wilson turned his attention to owning a television production company, Willie Wilson Productions, and in 1988, he was moved to pursue his faith after hearing the song, “What Shall I Render Unto the Lord?” at his church. He sold his McDonald’s restaurants to dedicate his life to Gospel music and started doing church solos and singing with the Norfleet Brothers. He created several albums: I'm So Grateful, Lord Don't Let Me Fail, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Through It All, Somewhere Listening, It is I That Gain the More and I'll Fly Away.
In 1989, Wilson’s Singsation! premiered, a half-hour weekly program of Gospel music. The show is produced by his television production corporation. Singsation! is regularly hosted by Wilson and is available in over 60 million households every Sunday. A gifted singer, Wilson earned an Emmy Award in 2012 for one of his Gospel performances on the popular television show.
Still holding entrepreneurial ambitions, in 1997, Wilson founded Omar Medical Supplies, one of America’s fastest growing distributors of disposable products for use in medical, industrial and food service areas. Omar has sourcing offices with employees in the United States, as well as in Shanghai and Beijing, China.
Wilson is the recipient of a Doctor of Divinity degree from Mt. Carmel Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Chicago Baptist Institute International.
He is pretty good on a number of issues. From his website:
- No More Property Tax Increases
- Legalize Recreational Marijuana (but he wants to tax it)
- Support Sanctuary Cities
- Abolish Red Light Cameras