The ACLU calls the arrest, "a dark day for democracy."
A Public News Service reporter was arrested in West Virginia on Tuesday, after he pursued answers to a question he poised to Health and Services Secretary Tom Price.
The reporter, Dan Heyman was covering a protest at the state Capitol building where he followed Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway through the building asking a question about whether or not domestic abuse was a pre-existing condition.
“Do you think that’s right or not, secretary?” Heyman asked, in the recording he shared with The Washington Post. “You refuse to answer? Tell me no comment.”
Heyman says he was using his phone as a recorder, trying to document Price’s answer to his query, but according to reports, got his phone too close and was arrested for “willful disruption of government process.”
On Wednesday, the Virginia division of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the arrest calling it a, “"blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press."
But Price defended the arrest, saying police, “did what they felt was appropriate.”
Heyman says it is the press’ job to get information and that his arrest sets a “terrible example.”
“This is my job, this is what I’m supposed to do,” Heyman said in a news conference Tuesday. “I think it’s a question that deserves to be answered. I think it’s my job to ask questions and I think it’s my job to try to get answers.”
The ACLU put out the following statement on Wednesday:
“This a dangerous time in our country. Freedom of the press is being eroded every day. We have a President who calls the media “fake news” and resists transparency at every turn.
And today, a reporter was arrested for trying to ask a question to members of President Trump’s administration. 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.
By asking Tom Price and Kellyanne Conway whether domestic violence was considered a preexisting condition under President Trump’s healthcare proposal, Dan Heyman was doing his job as a reporter.
He was fulfilling that sacred role of the media in a democratic state of holding our elected officials accountable regarding the vital issues of the day. And for that, he was arrested.
What President Trump’s administration is forgetting, and what the Capitol Police forgot today, is that the government works for us.
Today was a dark day for democracy. But the rule of law will prevail. The First Amendment will prevail. The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia stands ready to fight any attempt by the government to infringe upon our First Amendment rights.”
Heyman, a 30-year journalism veteran spent eight hours in jail and was released on a $5,000 bond. He could face a $100 fine and spend up to six months in jail.