On today's BradCast, 200k former felons get their voting rights back in Virginia, even as one protester for campaign finance reform loses his right to vote after being sentenced for a federal felony.
In a surprise announcement today, citing long-standing post-Civil War restrictions meant to keep African-American voters away from the ballot box, VA's Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) issued an executive order to re-enfranchise more than 200,000 former felons who have completed their prison sentences as well as their parole and probation periods. That good news comes even as former felons in Maryland are voting for the first time in decades, in advance of next week's primary, following that state legislative override of a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
Meanwhile, Brooklyn's top Board of Elections official is suspended amidst the NY Attorney General's new investigation into the still-unexplained purge of more than 100,000 Democratic voters in the months leading up to last Tuesday's disastrous Presidential Primary in NY.
Then, we are joined again by Florida postal worker Doug Hughes, who was sentenced on Thursday to four months in federal prison as part of a plea deal following his infamous demonstration for campaign finance reform last year when he landed his homemade gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to raise awareness for the problem of money in politics following disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and other related cases.
Hughes tells me, as he told the U.S. District Court Judge in federal court yesterday, that he has "no regrets" for his protest, despite the high costs he is being forced to pay, including, ironically enough, the loss of his voting rights in the state of Florida.
"I will never do this again, but I have no regrets over having done it," he says. "Judge Kotelly said my flight was a stunt. And it was a stunt, because it didn't change anything as far as the laws were concerned. It didn't do anything. Except it changed the perception that resistance is futile. People now believe that they can change [the campaign finance system], and a lot of people are getting engaged in changing it."
Hughes shares his thoughts on the 'Democracy Spring' protests for election and campaign finance reform that have resulted in more than 1,000 arrests over the past two weeks at the nation's capitol, even as the mainstream corporate media barely covered any of it. He describes his remarkable conversation with a CNN producer who called him yesterday after his sentencing. He says he told the CNN staffer that Democracy Spring protesters "were chanting 'Where is CNN?' You get thousands of people together and not a single CNN camera! There was no coverage of what was going on. I said, 'What kind of ghouls are running the organization that you've got to have to have somebody dead before the media will cover it?'"
The colorful and impassioned Hughes also comments on the absurdity of big banks and other major corporations getting away with tax-deductible financial settlements for actual crimes (including murder), while their executives get off scot-free. But, he argues, there is a way to change what seems like an unbeatable system, and he says it involves taking on both Democrats and Republicans alike in primary elections if they refuse to join forces to move campaign finance reform forward. "Like 4% of the population of any district is more than enough to beat the incumbent in the primary."
There is much more to hear from my discussion with Hughes (his website is here if you'd like to help him), before I am finally joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report. This one, on Earth Day --- and a very significant one at that...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)