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Gyro-copter lands on west front of U.S. Capitol, pilot arrested

The U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a single occupant of a gyro copter that landed on the west lawn of t‎he U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a single occupant of a gyro-copter that landed on the west lawn of t‎he U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida mailman was trying to deliver a message on campaign reform to Congress. The U.S. Capitol Police continues to investigate and there are temporary street closures in the immediate area.

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Capitol Police have not confirmed the identity of the pilot of the craft who was arrested.

But Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, Florida sent an email recently to WFLA as well as other local media claiming that he intended to fly a gyro copter and deliver 535 letters to Washington DC.

"The letters are addressed to every individual member of Congress. I'm the pilot," Hughes wrote in the email.

"What's unique and newsworthy is the delivery. I'm going to land my gyro on the front lawn of the Capitol Building at the top end of the National Mall," Hughes said. "The issue is important enough to defy the no-fly zone and risk life and limb, and my freedom in pursuit of an honest government that represents the people."

The 800-word letter protests corruption in government, quoting John Kerry, now the secretary of state, as saying in his farewell speech to the Senate: "The unending chase for money, I believe, threatens to steal our democracy itself." Kerry made the remark on the Senate floor on Jan. 30, 2013.

"As a voter, I'm a member of the only political body with authority over Congress," the letter says. "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."

It cites corporations that pay no or few taxes, the so-called revolving door of lawmakers who retire to become lobbyists, lawmakers' focus on raising money for re-election and what it calls disproportional influence of the wealthy in crafting the nation's laws.

The letter calls on the government to "erect a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money." If it doesn't, the letter says, the American people will approve a constitutional amendment to do so.

The letter links to a website for a group called The Democracy Club, which promotes the same ideas. While Hughes' name doesn't appear in the site, the site's domain is registered in his name and address. Many of the posts are signed "Tampadoug47," and the email address listed to contact the director is the same address used in the letter sent to WFLA under Hughes' name.

A post on the site, which repeats many of the same points made in the letter, gives authorities notice of his plan to conduct a "live flight" in Washington. It is dated Sept. 16, 2013, more than a year and a half ago, but it appears to have been updated recently.

In a biography on the site, "Tampadoug47" describes himself as a postal carrier in Florida. He says he is married with four children and grew up in Santa Cruz, California, before joining the Navy.

"Let's keep the discussion focused on reform — not me — I'm just delivering the mail," it says.

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