A long-time Arizona political reporter and her photographer were barred from re-entering the state house chamber last week after an unannounced policy change went into effect -- and caught it all on video.
KPNX reporter Melissa Blasius and photojournalist Ed Ayala were reporting a story about a minimum wage bill. After gaining admittance to the house floor earlier in the day, they were later blocked from re-entering by Rey Torres, the new spokesman for Arizona House Speaker Andrew Tobin, a Republican.
"When we attempted to re-enter the chamber, Torres told us (to my great surprise) that we had to scan state-government-issued badges to re-enter," Blasius later recounted on news site azcentral.com. "When we could only produce our company-issued media credentials, he forced us to leave the area. He took us down a back stairwell to the head of security."
Ayala began recording the interaction as he and Blasius argued it was their right as journalists to be granted access to the designated media areas where they had been shortly before.
"You should never have been allowed on the floor at all," Torres said, adding a new security policy had been implemented more than a month ago -- but had not been announced to news organizations before it went into effect.
"We are communicating verbally to every news agency that comes through the capitol," he said, adding Blasius and Ayala were "welcome in the gallery, not on the floor."
Watch the full exchange below:
"My question now," Blasius wrote, "If Rey Torres is refusing to be open with the media about a critical part of our job, i.e. access to the press tables inside the House chamber, how can we trust that Torres will be open and honest with us about important matters of government?"