'We're not giving up' on Illinois, ex-Trump aide Flynn says in Niles event for GOP candidates

  • From left, GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Piton take turns speaking Friday at a campaign fundraiser in Niles.

      From left, GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Piton take turns speaking Friday at a campaign fundraiser in Niles. Jake Griffin | Staff Photographer

  • From left, GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn listen to GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Piton at a campaign fundraiser Friday in Niles.

      From left, GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn listen to GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Piton at a campaign fundraiser Friday in Niles. Jake Griffin | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/20/2022 10:22 PM

Controversial former Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about former President Donald Trump's dealings with Russia and was pardoned by Trump before being sentenced, was in the suburbs Friday stumping for several Illinois GOP candidates.

Invited by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Piton to a fundraiser in Niles, Flynn spoke for about five minutes to a crowd of roughly 300 supporters, who organizers said paid between $150 and $250 per ticket, about "accountability" and "courage."

 

"I will meet people at the gates of hell if that's what it takes to get accountability," Flynn said. "But the idea about courage, when you think about all the incredible levels of courage people have displayed in our history ... you must make a decision, when it comes to taking that stand and doing the right thing."

He praised both Geneva resident Piton and GOP gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine, a McHenry County businessman, for becoming first-time candidates to get rid of what he called the status-quo politicians in office.

"I want people to know, in Illinois, we're not giving up on this place," he said. "Too many people have given up."

Many in attendance said they were there to support candidates who would get rid of longtime politicians.

"I support a candidate who speaks the truth and is not a career politician," Chicago resident Daniel Baumgartner said. "I want someone who thinks the way I do, that if an election isn't legitimate that the people who perpetrated that fraud should go to jail."

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The audience roundly applauded anyone who supported Trump, those who support a single day of voting, speakers who wanted laws banning critical race theory from being taught in schools, and any mention that 2020 election was fraudulent.

Piton has said illegal votes were cast in Arizona that led to President Joe Biden's election in 2020 and claims to have evidence showing "the math didn't support it being possible." Before Flynn spoke Friday, Piton led a panel that outlined their beliefs about election misconduct in Arizona two years ago, claiming election officials from both parties in that state "engineered the outcome."

Allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election were never substantiated, and a Republican-led audit of election results in Arizona's Maricopa County turned up more votes for Biden and fewer for Trump than originally recorded.

Piton said he doesn't believe election fraud is a single-party problem.

"Ever since the hanging chad incident in Florida, (former President George W.) Bush stole that election and ushered in the era of electronic voting," Piton said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Flynn stopped short of claiming the 2020 election was stolen, though he has claimed it before.

"We have lost sight, folks," he told the audience. "We're not at the eleventh hour for the United States of America. We are at like the last few seconds of the twelfth hour, OK? And trust me."

Scott Thrower, a West Dundee resident, said he attended Friday's fundraiser to hear more from candidates about their platforms.

"I'm just hoping to hear a little more clarity on the direction this group wants to take the country and the state," he said.

Piton is facing six other candidates -- Chicagoans Anthony Williams and Jimmy Lee Tillman II, Belleville's Peggy Hubbard, Naperville resident Matt Dubiel, Mundelein's Kathy Salvi and Casey Chlebek of Lake Forest -- for the GOP nomination on June 28 for the chance to unseat current U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth in November.

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