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HomeIllinois NewsEyes Right Open raises questions as to Trump affliation

Eyes Right Open raises questions as to Trump affliation



CHICAGO – A political group that calls themselves "Eyes Right Open" and boasts affiliation with President Trump and a statewide following, but have been tough to receive answers from is raising eyebrows. Who are they, who funds them and are they really directly connected to President Trump's re-election effort as some of the activists say they are?

The group, also referred to as "ERO," has no incorporation filings or political action committee status listed in Illinois. The group's website says they are a 501c4 filed in Ohio.

However, the group claims to have hosted or participated in 96 watch parties throughout the state in June, when President Donald Trump announced his intention to seek re-election in 2020. Facebook pages from conservatives activists throughout the state featured watch party photos – many of which claimed were affiliated with ERO. 

At a conservative leadership meeting in late April at Heartland Institute in Arlington Heights, Illinois, once-Democrat operative Victor Santana shared ERO's intentions to work towards re-electing Trump. Santana, who worked closely with former Cook County Democratic chairman Joe Berrios for many years, now says that he's "seen the light, and wants to help the president get re-elected." 

Santana's business "GLC Hub Club, LLC" was a source of funding for at least two of the Trump watch parties, and he has organized well-known conservative activists from throughout the state – including Will County Board member Steve Balich, Effingham's Susan Petty and Putnam County's Jay DeBates.

Susan Petty posted on her Facebook page over the weekend that she and other volunteers were preparing to open an office in the Effingham area.

Mr. Balich spoke with Illinois Review off the record, but said in June that as of then, no funds had exchanged hands with him, and he was working with the organization with the full intention of helping to re-elect President Trump – something the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party had not done in 2016. 

Once-Congressional candidate Matt Quigley wrote on a Facebook page that he is a founding board member of Eyes Right Open and did so prior to ever having thought about running for office.

"I do not receive any compensation other than the satisfaction of building a more cohesive and active conservative community. The idea behind ERO was to create a grassroots-led conservative movement with a long term plan to promote conservative ideals, we call it the 100-year plan," Quigley wrote. "At its core, we seek to convert non-conservatives into conservatives, like President Trump was able to do with so many Blue-Dog Democrats."

Then Quigley made an important point that all those who signed on to re-elect President Trump may not know: "As a 501c4 we cannot support any candidates. We support bringing conservatives together, growing as a community, and attracting new people to the conservative cause." 

That sounds pretty good to the average ignored and scorned conservative in Illinois. The more energy in the movement, the more likelihood for success. 

Victor Santana responded to Facebook page requests as the group's "executive director" and says he is open to an interview with Illinois Review. 




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