Reporter arrested after repeatedly questioning Health secretary

Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, said he was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the House-passed healthcare bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as the secretary was entering the building.

In a press conference held shortly after posting bail, Heyman said he asked Price repeatedly about whether domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition under the new GOP healthcare bill.

According to Heyman’s account, he waited for Price to come into the building and then reached past those accompanying Price with his phone and repeatedly asked his healthcare question, adding that a number of other reporters wanted to bring up the issue of pre-existing conditions. 

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He said capitol police at some point “decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job and so they arrested me.”

The event concluded with a press conference at the end of Price's visit, which Heyman reportedly could have attended but did not.

According to the criminal complaint by the capitol police, 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. The defendant was causing a disturbance by yelling at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price.” 

The officer who filed the report said he and another officer “were able to detain the defendant before he tried aggressively to breach the security of the secret service.” 

"As the criminal complaint explains, this is not about someone trying to ask questions," said Lawrence Messina, the director of communication for West Virginia's Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which oversees the capitol police.

"The individual repeatedly tried to push his way past secret service agents who were providing for the safety and security for an event at the state capitol. There were other reporters present who asked questions without incident," Messina continued. 

Heyman said he couldn’t remember how many times he asked the question, but he added that it is his job to ask questions, expressing disbelief that he was arrested. 

“First time I’ve ever been arrested for asking a question. First time I’ve ever heard of someone getting arrested for asking a question,” he said.

Heyman said he asked his question in a public space and received no warnings that he was in the wrong place or doing other activities to warrant his arrest.

“No police officer told me, ‘You’re in the wrong place,’ ” he said.

The police “put hands on me, although they didn’t hurt me, certainly,” he added.

Heyman asked them if he was under arrest, according to his version of events, and they said he was. He also said he told the police he was a member of the press. 

The police didn’t immediately read him his Miranda Rights, he added, because they were not asking him questions.

“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,” he added.

Heyman had to pay a $5,000 bond and was charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor.

— Updated: Wednesday, 10:45 a.m.