GOP lawmaker: Gyrocopter pilot ‘does have a point’

Amid concerns over security of U.S. Capitol grounds, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said Tuesday that the man who illegally flew a gyrocopter onto the West Lawn last week brought a worthwhile message about the need for campaign finance reform.

Postal worker Doug Hughes landed his gyrocopter onto the Capitol lawn Wednesday to deliver letters to members of Congress urging limits on the influence of money in politics.

“While I don’t condone violating restricted airspace and putting innocent people at risk by flying a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn, Mr. Hughes does have a point about the pervasive influence of money in politics,” Jones said on the House floor. “I’ve seen it get worse and worse in my 20 years in Congress.”

{mosads}”It does take a statement like Mr. Hughes’s to bring this issue into the national debate and to make Congress address our out-of-control fundraising,” Jones added.

Jones argued some bills appear to be prioritized for floor action because of influential donors. He cited a bill on the floor last week to modify regulations for mortgages on mobile homes that he claimed “does nothing but line the pockets of Warren Buffett.”

“The American people have lost confidence in the House and the Senate, partially because super-PACs influence candidates and politicians. Too many times I’ve seen bills come to the floor of the House that seem influenced by money,” Jones said.

Jones has co-sponsored H.R. 20, a bill authored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) that would encourage small campaign contributions and limit the influence of large donations. The North Carolina Republican urged a floor vote on the measure but appeared pessimistic it would ever happen.

“House leadership should bring this bill to the floor, but I know it won’t happen. There isn’t the stomach for reform bills in this Congress,” Jones said.

Jones’s remarks came shortly after Hughes expressed frustration over the weekend that his intended message about campaign finance had been drowned out by national security concerns.

“We’ve got bigger problems in this country than worrying about whether the security around D.C. is ironclad,” Hughes told The Associated Press. “We need to be worried about the piles of money that are going into Congress.”

Liberal comedian Bill Maher also lauded Hughes’s intentions, saying that he was “a hero to me.”

Tags Campaign finance United States Capitol Walter Jones

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