A West Virginia journalist was arrested Tuesday after trying to ask Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price a question in the halls of the West Virginia state capitol building, The Washington Post reports.
Dan Heyman, a veteran reporter for Public News Service, asked Secretary Price repeatedly whether domestic violence would be considered a pre-existing condition under the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act.
Price did not respond, and Heyman was reportedly hauled off by an officer and handcuffed. He was jailed for "willful disruption of state government processes" and later released on $5,000 bail.
Secretary Price and Counselor to the President Kellywanne Conway had traveled to Charleston, West Virginia for a conference on the opioid epidemic. West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths of any state in the country.
According to a criminal complaint, Heyman was "aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol." It stated further that the reporter, "was causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price."
Heyman and Tim DiPiero, his lawyer, disagree with that characterization. According to them, Heyman went through security in the capitol building and was wearing both a pass and a shirt identifying him as a member of the media, indicating that there was nothing wrong with him being there.
Heyman himself said that no officer took issue with his being there before the arrest, which DiPiero called "bizarre" and "way over the top", saying that he had never before had a client arrested for "talking too loud".
The Public News Service and ACLU of West Virginia both came to Heyman's defense, asserting that he was just doing his job and that the arrest undermined the freedom of the press.
Though Mr. Heyman believes that the arrest sets a "terrible example" for the ability of the press to ask questions, he says that he was not mistreated by West Virginia capitol police.