The wealthy Republican running for Illinois governor is catching heat for pledging $1 million of his personal fortune to a credit union on Chicago’s South Side for loans to small African-American businesses.
Bruce Rauner, who’s been courting black voters as he tries to unseat Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, made the promise during a meeting this week with more than 60 members of an African-American economic development group.
“He said, ‘I can put up more than $1 million,’” said Mark Allen, president of the Chicago chapter of National Black Wall Street. “That’s when the room just erupted. People were saying ‘Do you know what you just said?’ … He got a standing ovation.”
Allen and other members of the organization say the funds will make a world of difference to mom-and-pop businesses struggling to keep their doors open in neighborhoods where jobs are scarce. They also say there was no promise of votes or an endorsement in exchange for the money.
But the pledge has raised ethical questions and drawn criticism from Democrats, who say it’s a blatant attempt to buy votes by a political newcomer who has vowed to end Illinois’ well-known system of pay-to-play politics.
“This is the guy who’s going to shake up Springfield?” said Rikeesha Phelon, Illinois spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association. “What a fraud.”
Rauner’s response: It’s no payoff.
“This is not a giveaway on my part, it’s an investment in a credit union,” he told reporters, including CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez, as he walked the Chatham neighborhood Friday. More…