Journalist arrested trying to question Tom Price about GOP health care bill

Police arrested a reporter Tuesday on suspicion of “causing a disturbance by yelling questions” at U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price as he and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway visited the West Virginia capitol building.

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Dan Heyman, a journalist who covers West Virginia and Virginia for the nonprofit Public News Service, said he was arrested after asking repeatedly whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the GOP-backed American Health Care Act.

Price did not answer Heyman.

“So I persisted,” Heyman said at a news conference after his arrest. “I think it’s a question that deserves to be answered, and I think it’s my job to ask questions, and it’s my job to try and get answers.”

Heyman identified himself as a reporter and had a Public News Service shirt on when officers arrested him on a charge of willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor.

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“(It’s the) first time I’ve ever been arrested for asking a question,” Heyman said. “(It’s the) first time I’ve ever heard of anybody being arrested for asking a question. I mean, I’ve gotten into, you know, situations where people have yelled at me … people accuse me of being biased or question my legitimacy or my professionalism but I’ve never been arrested before.”

Heyman’s attorney Tim DePiero called the arrest a “highly unusual case.” He described Heyman as a reputable journalist and a mild-mannered man.

“Today is a dark day for democracy,” the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia said in a statement. “Mr. Heyman’s arrest is a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press. The charges against him are outrageous, and they must be dropped immediately.”

The below constitutes the official statement of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia regarding the arrest...

Posted by American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia on Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Heyman was released from jail on a $5,000 bond. DePiero said Heyman will next face an arraignment, although a court date was not immediately set.