The 61-year-old mailman who buzzed Washington before landing his gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol lawn will be making his way through South Carolina on Tuesday.
Doug Hughes of Ruskin, Fla., will be traveling north for his arraignment on charges connected to the illegal flight.
Hughes had hoped to make a Charleston appearance en route but his traveling restrictions prevent him from veering too far off Interstate 95.
But he is seeking publicity along the way. His media representatives said he plans to speak out during his drive north against the state of the nation’s campaign finance laws which he says favors donors over voters, eroding democracy.
On Tax Day, April 15, Hughes flew his one-person helicopter through the protected airspace above the National Mall before touching down on the Capitol front lawn. His goal was to deliver 535 letters of protest to the 535 members of Congress.
Hughes was quickly surrounded by police and taken into custody without incident. The flight further embarrassed those in charge of D.C. security after a number of breaches at the White House.
Hughes was charged with violating the District’s no-fly zone. His court appearance is Thursday.
Americans for Prosperity, the conservative grassroots group, might be at your doorstep or burning up your phone line in the near future.
They hope to get South Carolinians to urge legislators to vote against a gas-tax increase. Their web advertisement has already gotten thousands of views.
Group members plan to knock on doors in Sen. Mike Fair’s Greenville district and are planning volunteer phone banks and robocalls throughout this week, said Dave Schwartz, AFP’s South Carolina director. The campaign comes ahead of the S.C. Senate’s expected debate on an $800 million package that would hike the gas-tax and other fees.
“It doesn’t matter what the plans are, they are all a gas tax hike and they are not going to fix our roads,” Schwartz said.
The group believes the Department of Transportation should spend its funds more wisely and the way the funds are allocated needs to be changed before more money is put into the system.
The package and a compromise plan that comes with an income tax cut are expected to be part of the debate. Many senators, both Republicans and Democrats, have said that the state’s deteriorating road system needs an influx of cash to repair roads and help build new ones.
Apparently, the paychecks for state lawmakers were so small in 1993 that even U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham thought they were a mistake.
Graham didn’t go into details Tuesday when he visited the Statehouse, but he represented Oconee County in the S.C. House of Representatives beginning in 1992. State lawmakers’ current paycheck is $10,400, plus expenses for the five-month session.
It’s tiny when compared to surrounding states — like North Carolina, which pays $13,951, plus expenses, for a four-month session. Georgia pays $17,342, plus expenses, for a 40-day session.
An effort to give South Carolina lawmakers an additional $12,000 a year for expenses failed last year.
Graham joked he couldn’t deal with such a small check for what is considered a part-time job, so he went and got himself a full-time job in Congress.
Graham will declare his White House bid on June 1.
South Carolina isn’t looking to replace its voting machines for a few more years, but in the interest of transparency, the State Election Commission hosted a day-long fair last week in Columbia so voting officials across the state could learn more.
Charleston County Elections and Voter Registration director Joe Debney was among nine attendees from Charleston County, while Berkeley and Dorchester counties sent two representatives each.
They not only heard half-hour presentations from four perspective voting machine vendors, but also heard from election experts on evolving voting technology and what election officials can do to try to avoid long lines.
“It was well done. I was impressed,” Debney said of the event. Before 2004, counties across South Carolina used seven or eight separate voting systems before becoming one of the first states to settle on a single system in 2005.
That system has come under attack by some election watchers, saying it doesn’t produce enough of a paper trail, particularly in the wake of Alvin Greene’s Democratic Senate primary win over Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl in 2008.
Election officials have said that system is approaching the end of its life, and the Legislature is expected to consider replacing them. A new system could be in place by 2017.
Palmetto Politics is assembled by political reporter Schuyler Kropf.