The National Press Club reported Donnelly ran afoul of plainclothes security personnel at the FCC when he tried to ask commissioners questions when they were not in front of the podium at a scheduled press conference.
Throughout the FCC meeting, the security guards had shadowed Donnelly as if he were a security threat, he said, even though he said he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad. They even waited for him outside the men’s room at one point, he said.
When Donnelly strolled in what he said was an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed, Donnelly said. O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking, Donnelly said.
Donnely said one of the guards, Frederick Bucher, asked why he had not posed his question during the press conference. Then Bucher proceeded to force Donnelly to leave the building entirely under implied threat of force, Donnelly said
.@AjitPaiFCC needs to make clear that reporters working in public areas of a public building are allowed to ask Qs. 2 #pressfreedom— John M. Donnelly (@johnmdonnelly) May 18, 2017
“I could not have been less threatening or more polite,” Donnelly said of today’s encounter. “There is no justification for using force in such a situation.”
On Thursday evening Variety quoted FCC spokesperson Neil Grace as saying, “We apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats.”