A man flew his tiny helicopter onto the lawn of the United States Capitol building on Wednesday, causing a brief shutdown over security concerns. The pilot had been hoping to deliver letters to members of Congress about campaign finance laws, but was promptly arrested instead. A passerby caught the event on video.
The would-be pilot, who's been identified as Dough Hughes, had been planning the flight for a while — in 2013, the Secret Service spoke to him after receiving a tip that he was planning on flying onto the Capitol lawn. He'd also reportedly written a letter to President Obama, alerting him of the flight and saying he's just a protester, not a terrorist, and asking not to be shot down. When not protesting our too-lax campaign finance regulations, Hughes is a mailman in Ruskin, FL. He'd also alerted the Tampa Bay Times of his intentions, but the paper wasn't able to give the Secret Service or Capitol Security a heads up in time to stop the flight. The aircraft was searched and found to contain nothing threatening. The object of Hughes' protest is the Supreme Court's 2010 campaign finance ruling, usually called Citizens United. It ruled that corporations and unions have the right to spend unlimited money to support or oppose candidates for election. And, while we don't recomend unauthorized air travel as a means of protesting the decision, it is repsonsible for the estimated $5 billion that will be spent before the 2016 election on TV ads and mudslinging.