A journalist was arrested at the West Virginia Capitol on Tuesday while trying to ask Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question.
Cops detained Public News Service producer Dan Heyman and accused the reporter of “aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents.”
Police said “agents were forced to remove [Heyman] a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol,” according to criminal complaint obtained by West Virginia’s WSAZ.
The producer was “yelling a question” at Price, police said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia held a press conference with Heyman hours later, after he was released. Heyman said there were a number of people at the Capitol wanting to ask Price about pre-existing conditions in the American Health Care Act. He was working on a story about whether or not domestic violence is a pre-existing condition.
Heyman said he waited for Price to come into the building and had his phone out to record audio. The journalist with the Colorado-based news outlet pointed his phone toward Price, pushing it past his staffers so he could record Price’s response.
Price refused to respond to Heyman, despite the journalist’s repeated attempts.
Heyman said his persistence may have led to his arrest.
“It’s dreadful. This is my job, this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to find out if someone is going to be affected by this healthcare law … I think it is a question that deserves to be answered,” Heyman said.
Heyman’s lawyer, Tim DiPiero, noted that he normally would not make a comment on a case like this, but said the situation is “highly unusual.”
“I’ve never had a client get arrested for talking too loud or anything similar to that,” DiPiero said. “Mr. Heyman, I know from reputation of being a mild-mannered guy. He cleared security before he went into the building and he had no intention of doing anything other than asking a tough question.
“We just don’t understand why he got arrested it just seems way over the top.”
Heyman claims he wasn’t told he was in restricted area until he was arrested near the West Wing entrance of the Capitol building.
Heyman said it was his first arrest. He was charged with willful disruption of government processes and later posted a $5,000 bond.