Doug Hughes, the 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin who made the controversial gyrocopter landing inside the Capitol lawn, devised his plan for over two years. The plot to personally deliver his letter to Congress was personally tipped off by Hughes to the U.S. Secret Service.
Hughes’ plot was founded on his disdain against legislators’ campaign finance reform, The Tampa Bay Times has found. The decision to finally materialize his plans was motivated by the death of his son in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Authority said in a statement that its aviation security partners in the DC area are now investigating the incident. According to statement, Hughes was flying with no contact with FAA air traffic controllers and that he was not authorized to enter restricted airspace.
“Airspace security rules that cover the Capitol and the District of Columbia prohibit private aircraft flights without prior coordination and permission. Violators may face civil and criminal penalties,” FAA said.
The plot behind gyrocopter landing on Capitol Lawn
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that campaign contributions are an important aspect of what it called “political speech.” The court also ruled that corporations and unions may give as much as how they want to donate to those running for power. For Hughes, this is “favor-dealing” and resulted to full encroachment of the government by the rich.
“We’re heading full-throttle toward a breakdown. There’s no question that we need government, but we don’t have to accept that it’s a corrupt government that sells out to the highest bidder. We can have a government that works for the people, that answers to the people, that can only take money from the people in small amounts,” Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times.
Two-and-a-half years ago, his son who shared the same belief as him committed suicide by intentionally crashing into another car. Police where apathetic, with officials reporting that his son was a “suicidal driver that caused deadly crash.”
“Something changed in me. He paid far too high a price for an unimportant issue. But if you’re willing to take a risk, the ultimate risk, to draw attention to something that does have significance, it’s worth doing.”
On Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Hughes landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn.
Doug Hughes Video
Hughes have handed Tampa Bay Times an exclusive video detailing his plot prior to his actual landing on the lawn. In the video, Hughes said he will give “plenty of warning well over an hour in advance of me getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am, and what I’m doing and that it’s intended to be non-violent.”
He said he wanted to draw attention to campaign finance reform by delivering to Congress his letters asking them to change such laws. He’d deliver the letters nonviolently, he said, just fly his gyrocopter into the no-fly-zone and land it in front of the Capitol.
“I’m going to have 535 letters strapped to the landing gear in boxes, and those letters are gonna be addressed to every member of Congress,” Hughes said in the video.
“I’m delivering the message right to them not for their sake but for the impact that it will have because I’m trying to galvanize millions of people to do a relatively simple thing — change the government to build a wall of separation between the government and big money, so the government will represent the people,” he continued.
He differs himself from terrorists.
“I’m not suicidal, and I’m not going to commit suicide, and I’m not going to fly into any monuments. Terrorists don’t announce their flights before they take off, okay? Terrorists don’t broadcast their flight path. Terrorists don’t invite an escort to go along with them.”
“I’d rather die in flight than live to be 80 years old and see this country fall,” Hughes concluded.
U.S. Secret Service Denied Receiving Information
Hughes’ friend, Mike Shanahan, told Tampa Bay Times that Hughes has contacted a Secret Service Agent before flying his gyrocopter. However, the U.S. Secret Service in Washington D.C. denied being notified. Tampa Bay Times was referred to a Capitol Police.
“He hasn’t notified anybody. We have no information,” one police official said.
However, it emerged that a Secret Service agent visited Hughes last spring and quizzed him whether he has a gyrocopter and if he is keeping it inside a hangar at a small airport in Wauchula. The agent knew of his objection against the campaign finance reform. He was also asked whether he has plans of crashing the gyrocopter into any buildings or monuments in Washington, D.C. The agent has also talked with Hughes’ doctor to ask if he was not suicidal or homicidal.
Hughes’ letter delivered by the gyrocopter landing on Capitol Lawn
“I’m demanding reform and declaring a voter’s rebellion in a manner consistent with Jefferson’s description of rights in the Declaration of Independence. As a member of Congress, you have three options. 1. You may pretend corruption does not exist. 2. You may pretend to oppose corruption while you sabotage reform. 3. You may actively participate in real reform.”
Read the full report from Tampa Bay Times.
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