(CN) – A West Virginia reporter was arrested Tuesday after yelling questions to Tom Price, the secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services.
Daniel Ralph Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, was arrested after he repeatedly yelled questions at Price, who was visiting the state capitol building in Charleston for a session on opioid addiction.
The criminal complaint says 54-year-old Heyman tried to breach Secret Service security and was forcibly removed from a hallway at the capitol building.
Heyman was charged with misdemeanor willful disruption of governmental process.
Heyman later said he was trying to ask Price why domestic violence would be considered a pre-existing condition under the Trump administration’s reworked health care program.
“I’m not sure why, but at some point, I think they decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job and so they arrested me,” Heyman said during a news conference that was posted on Facebook by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Heyman’s attorney, Tim DePiero called the arrest a “highly unusual case,” and said his client’s only intent was to ask Price a few questions.
“I’ve never had anyone get in trouble criminally for talking too loud,” DePiero said. “We just don’t understand why he got arrested. It just seems way over the top.”
This is the second time this week Price has found himself at the center of intense questioning.
On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R.-Iowa, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, blasted Price for his department’s “potentially illegal and unconstitutional” behavior after they obtained an internal memo sent from the Department of Health and Human Services instructing employees to inform the agency before communicating independently with Congress.
The memo, they said, contains “no exception whatsoever for lawful, protected communications with Congress. In its current form, employees are likely to interpret it as a prohibition, and will not necessarily understand their rights,” the representatives said.
Grassley and Chaffetz requested Price issue specific written guidance to all agency employees making them aware of their right to communicate with Congress. Specifically, their right to whistleblower protections.
“These provisions are significant because they ensure that attention can be brought to problems in the Executive Branch that need to be fixed. Protecting whistleblowers who courageously speak out is not a partisan issue – it is critical to the functioning of our government,” the lawmakers said.