The letter carrier who caused a full-scale security review in Washington when he violated national airspace by landing his gyrocopter on Capitol Hill expressed frustration today that his message wasn't getting through. Doug Hughes had hoped to raise awareness about the influence of big money in politics by deliberately breaking the law to deliver 535 letters, one for each member of Congress. Instead, the overwhelming focus of news coverage has been about the gaps he exposed in national security. "We've got bigger problems in this country than worrying about whether the security around DC is ironclad," Hughes says. "We need to be worried about the piles of money that are going into Congress."
Hughes, 61, spoke as he returned to his home in Florida to await prosecution on charges of violating national airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft. He said his house arrest begins tomorrow, and he will wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet until a May 8 court hearing in Washington. "The message was two pages long to Congress that they are going to have to face the issue, OK, of campaign-finance reform and honesty and government so that they work for the people," Hughes said. Hughes' Russian-born wife, Alena, says her husband acted out of patriotism. "I am very proud of my husband," she said. Asked if he thinks he's a patriot or simply crazy, Hughes said "everyone gets to make up their own mind about me." Asked again if he was a patriot, he responded, "No, I'm a mailman."