GOP congressman praises gyrocopter pilot: Citizens United allows millionaires to buy candidates
A Republican congressman on Tuesday morning praised a Florida mailman who landed his gyrocopter on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol to draw attention to the influence of money in politics.
Doug Hughes, 61, was arrested without incident last week after he flew his small helicopter over the Capitol and landed on the lawn.
“While I don’t condone violating restricted airspace and putting innocent people at risk by flying a gyrocopter onto the Capitol lawn, Mr. Hughes does have a point about the pervasive influence of money in politics. I have seen it get worse and worse during my 20 years in Congress,” Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) said Tuesday on the House floor.
“The Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 created super-PACs and multi-millionaires who buy candidates. As of April 8, 2015, there were 1,360 super-PACs in existence that controlled nearly $700 million in the 2014 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org. The American people have lost confidence in the House and in the Senate partially because super-PACs influence candidates and politicians,” he continued.
Jones said he supported legislation to reform campaign finance laws because he was disgusted with the influence of money in politics. He cited the Government by the People Act by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), which would curb the influence of wealthy donors by creating a public fund to match contributions from small donors.
“House leadership should bring this bill to the floor, but I know it won’t happen,” Jones continued. “There isn’t the stomach for reform bills in this Congress, even for bipartisan reform bills. Maybe it does take a statement like Mr. Hughes’ to bring this issue into the national debate and to make Congress address our out-of-control fund-raising.”
The congressman said that reforming the nation’s campaign finance system by overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling was too difficult. The ruling can only be overturned by amending the United States Constitution.
“But we can have an alternative. That is what the John Sarbanes bill does, so I hope Republicans and Democrats will look seriously at becoming cosponsors.”
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