Gov. Rauner doles out $400K to fellow Illinois Republicans

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has begun doling out money from his campaign fund to fellow Republicans as the Legislature approaches what could be difficult votes on several big issues.

A spokeswoman says Rauner last Monday divided $400,000 between every Republican member of the Illinois House and Senate.

The Legislature’s spring session ends May 31. Lawmakers still have to pass a 2016 budget and could vote on a pension overhaul and a tax increase. Rauner also wants legislators’ support for his pro-business priorities.

Illinois campaign finance expert and professor emeritus Kent Redfield calls the donations and their timing “very unusual.”

Rauner says his $20 million political fund helps him push his agenda and counter the influence of “special interests” such as labor unions in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.