“Gyrocopter” Pilot Honored With Commemorative Stamp

Postal Worker’s Flight Against Big Money in Politics Celebrated

WASHINGTON – Today the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, US Postal Service & The Census, in partnership with the United States Postal Service, announced the release of a new commemorative stamp honoring Florida postal worker Doug Hughes, whose recent actions have brought unprecedented attention to the corrosive influence of money in our political system. Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27), Chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service & the Census, issued the following statement.

“We are extremely pleased to honor Mr. Hughes and his daring, if unconventional, feat of aerial adventurism and civil disobedience, which highlighted dire lapses in our security — the security of our democracy from the undue influence of big money special interests. I’d also like to apologize for an earlier remark made by one of my colleagues, Committee Chairman Rep. Chaffetz, to the effect that Mr. Hughes, “should have been blown out of the air.” What really needs to be blown to bits is our current campaign finance system, which has only grown more unaccountable since the Supreme Court’s regrettable 2010 decision in Citizens United.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 10.16.27 AMThe commemorative stamp was unveiled this morning at the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, by Deputy Postmaster Kirk Reiland. The stamp features a portrait of Hughes, as well as a rendering of his one-man gyrocopter, a small anachronistic helicopter favored by hobbyists, with the accompanying text: “Doug Hughes’ Historic Flight Against Corruption.” The stamp design was donated by retired Maryland postal worker and painter, Thomas P. Conrad, a fellow gyrocopter enthusiast.

The event was attended by press, as well as family members of the honoree. Mr. Hughes himself was unable to attend due to his house arrest in Ruskin, Florida, pending arraignment in Federal court on May 21.

At the time of his flight (and subsequent arrest), the national news media focused obsessively on the details of the security breach supposedly posed by Hughes’ unusual flight, with little focus on the “democracy breach” it was meant to call attention to, a breach in abundant evidence in Washington.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on the Sunday before his arraignment, Hughes himself wrote, “It’s appropriate that we spend billions protecting the United States from terrorists. It’s time for Americans to spend time protecting democracy from plutocrats … The problem is complex but the solutions are simple and based on principles Americans share: We want to live in a 21st Century democracy where everyone has a right to know who is influencing our government, everyone has a voice, everyone participates, everyone plays by the same set of common sense rules, and everyone is held accountable if they break faith with those rules.”

That 21st Century democracy is in trouble. Earlier this month the Chair of the Federal Election Commission, the body charged with overseeing the integrity of our elections, told the New York Times the Commission is now essentially unable to enforce even minimal existing laws governing anonymous “dark” money donations, or illegal coordination between candidate campaigns and super PACs. This comes as many analysts are warning that the 2016 elections will be the most expensive and corruption prone in modern American history.

Mr. Hughes joins a pantheon of American iconoclasts like Thomas Paine and Rosa Parks, with commemorative stamps honoring their contributions in defense of American freedoms, civil and political rights. The Smithsonian Institution has also expressed interest in acquiring Hughes’ gyrocopter, for a future exhibit in the National Museum of American History, and is currently in conversations with the Capitol Police about taking custody of the flightcraft.

Note: If you have not guessed, this was a protest stunt pulled off by RepresentUs through the Yes Men’s Action Lab. In reality Doug Hughes is facing 9.5 years in prison for his effort to get money out of politics.