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Lawmakers are speaking up on behalf of Josh Fox, a documentary filmmaker arrested by Capitol Police this morning after attempting to turn his lens on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
“I have served in the House of Representatives since 1992. ... In all that time, I cannot recall a chair of any committee or subcommittee having ever ordered the removal of a person who was filming a committee proceeding and not being disruptive,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “I cannot understand why any chairman, for any reason, would order the arrest of a noted filmmaker who was only recording the hearing and not in any way disrupting it.”
Fox, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his film “Gasland,” was attending an Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing this morning. The subject was hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a controversial method for extracting oil and natural gas.
Not having the proper credentials to film in the Capitol, Fox was not only turned away but taken into custody. Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider confirmed that Fox was removed at 10:30 a.m. on the charge of “unlawful entry.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the subcommittee, joined Nadler earlier in the day to weigh in on the arrest, suggesting that censorship was the motivating factor.
“If Republicans want to undermine the use of science at [the Environmental Protection Agency], they can’t hide it from the American people because they have the right to know,” the California Democrat said.
Committee Chairman Ralph Hall said he was not present at the hearing when the arrest was made, but he added that he believed subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-Md.) made the right call.
“I think the boy called it by the rules,” Hall told Roll Call this evening. “The rules never bothered me, but he’s a stickler for the rules.”
Warren Rojas contributed to this report.