CHICAGO — For Chicagoans struggling to pay for gas, help is on the way.

Wednesday, in a close 15 to 12 vote — a City Council committee advanced Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to use $12.5 million in city funds for gas cards and CTA card advances.

Some called the giveaway a political ploy.

“I’ve heard from some constituents who have said that this is the mayor trying to prove that she has the biggest gas hose,” 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa said.

Lightfoot’s plan one-ups mayoral candidate Willie Wilson — who held a $200,000 gas giveaway followed by a $1 million event. On Saturday, he plans to give away another $1 million.

But free gas to potential voters raises campaign ethics questions. Alisa Kaplan, of Reform Illinois, said giving away gas is legal as long as a candidate is not doing it at a campaign event.

“Even though it’s legal reasonable people could definitely look at this and say it sort looks like he’s trying to get people more likely to vote for him but the bar is very high for proving vote-buying,” she said.

In 2018, Wilson handed out more than $200,000 at a South Side church. Even though the event was shown on his Facebook page, the state elections board concluded Wilson did not violate election rules.

Handouts to potential voters is not new. Wealth individuals routinely use their charitable giving as a reason for people to vote for them.

“Everyone should ask themselves, ‘what do you think about this?’ Is this something that crosses the line for you?'” Kaplan said. “Is this vote-buying in their minds or is this just somebody trying to do the right thing for people. It’s not an easy question and it definitely raises some thorny ethical issues.”