West Virginia reporter Dan Heyman attempted to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the Republican health-care bill on May 9. He was arrested for “Willful Disruption of State Government Processes.” (Valerie Woody/West Virginia Citizen Action Group)
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended police who arrested a reporter at West Virginia’s state capitol, saying they “did what they felt was appropriate.”
When asked if he felt the reporter, Public News Service journalist Dan Heyman, had been too aggressive and whether it was appropriate to arrest him, Price said it was “not my decision to make,” according to the Associated Press. He gave the statements during a meeting on the opioid crisis in Concord, N.H., on Wednesday.
“That gentleman was not in a press conference,” Price said, according to STAT.
A day earlier, Price and Kellyanne Conway, special counsel to the president, had been walking through a hallway in the West Virginia state capitol when veteran reporter Heyman began following alongside him, holding up his phone to Price while attempting to ask him a question.
Heyman repeatedly asked the secretary whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the Republican bill to overhaul the nation’s health care system, he said.
“Do you think that’s right or not, secretary?” Heyman asked, according to a recording an audio recording Heyman provided to The Washington Post. “You refuse to answer? Tell me no comment.”
A male voice is heard telling Heyman, “Do not get close to her. Back up.”
Moments later, an officer in the capitol pulled Heyman aside, handcuffed him and arrested him. Heyman was jailed on the charge of willful disruption of state government processes and was released later on $5,000 bail.
Authorities said while Secret Service agents were providing security in the capitol for Price and Conway, Heyman was “aggressively breaching” the agents to the point where they were “forced to remove him a couple of times from the area,” according to a criminal complaint.
Heyman “was causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price,” the complaint stated.
But Heyman said he was simply fulfilling his role as a journalist and feels that his arrest sets a “terrible example” for members of the press seeking answers to questions.
“This is my job, this is what I’m supposed to do,” Heyman said in a news conference Tuesday after being released from jail. “I think it’s a question that…