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

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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

CHICAGO (AP) _ Illinois Gov. 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 on 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.