Charges Dropped Against West Virginia Journalist Who Questioned Trump Secretary

Sep 6, 2017

Charges have been dropped against a journalist who was arrested in May during a visit from members of the Trump Administration at the West Virginia state capitol. 

A criminal complaint by West Virginia’s Capitol police said Dan Heyman of Public News Service caused a disturbance on May 9 with his persistent questions to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Heyman was asking whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under a then-GOP proposal to slash the Affordable Care Act.

The complaint says Heyman "was aggressively breaching" Secret Service agents, who were there on detail with President Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Heyman was arrested and charged with “willful disruption of governmental processes” and later released on $5,000 bail. One condition of his bail was for him to stay away from the Capitol, which was part of his coverage territory as a reporter.

In a statement, the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office says Heyman’s behavior may have been seen as “aggressive journalism” but was not unlawful and did not violate the law with which he was charged.

"The State has determined, after a careful review of the facts, that Mr. Heyman's conduct, while it may have been aggressive journalism, was not unlawful and did not violate the law," read a joint statement from the Kanawha County Prosecutor's office and Public News Service.

"I don’t want my arrest to have a chilling effect on other reporters because we all need to keep asking the tough questions of elected officials," said Heyman in a Wednesday news release.

"I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received from all over the country. The intense response to my arrest gives me confidence that people will defend the free press, because they believe in it."

Heyman would have faced up to six months in jail if he had been convicted.