WASHINGTON -- A reporter says his repeated attempts to ask Scott Brown about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling led to him being questioned by a police officer.
Paul Lewis, a reporter for The Guardian, published an account Wednesday of his efforts to discuss the decision with Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts who is now looking to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Lewis decided to try his luck at two of Brown's campaign stops in New Hampshire, but quickly learned that Brown was in no mood to talk to the press.
"Just a few miles from a town named Freedom ... I was expelled from two consecutive Brown campaign events, banned from asking him questions and, when I declined to abide by those terms, questioned by an officer of the law," Lewis wrote.
Lewis first showed up at a diner where Brown had stopped as part of a statewide tour. He introduced himself to Brown and asked if he could pose some questions. Brown asked what the questions would be about, but retreated for the bathroom when Lewis mentioned the Hobby Lobby case.
Lewis learned of a second campaign stop Brown would be making hours later at Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Company in West Ossipee, and decided to show up there, too. A staffer told Lewis he could observe the event but would not be permitted to ask questions. Lewis said he did not agree to those terms and was promptly kicked out.
Several minutes later, a police officer showed up to question him, Lewis wrote:
None of the parties disputed the facts of the case. I was the journalist. My job was to ask questions. The man holed up inside the tavern was Scott Brown, a would-be senator who didn’t want to answer. I was eventually asked to leave. I left.
Officer Valley mulled over the situation before delivering his summary judgment. “There’s no crime,” he said. “No issue here at all.”
Rob Finneron, the owner of Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Company, told The Huffington Post he called the police after Lewis refused to leave despite being told the event was private.
"Mr. Brown was having a private gathering in my establishment. The reporter wouldn't let anyone else really get a chance to talk and because he wasn't an invited guest, I asked him to leave," Finneron said.
Finneron added that Lewis was warned the police would be called if he did not leave. Lewis was "argumentative and indignant" and proceeded to interrupt a conversation Brown was having with someone else, Finneron said. The reporter did not leave until he saw that Finneron was, in fact, on the phone with police.
Finneron agreed that when the police officer arrived, he did not find an issue.
Gennady Kolker, a spokesman for The Guardian, disputed claims that Lewis acted improperly.
"Paul Lewis was engaged in legitimate and responsible reporting on an important issue from a candidate seeking public office," Gennady said in a statement to HuffPost. "The suggestion that he acted inappropriately is inaccurate."
The Hobby Lobby ruling, stating that for-profit, closely held corporations do not have to cover contraception in their health plans if they morally object to it, is a complicated issue for Brown, who has been cast as anti-women by Shaheen. Brown's campaign has insisted that he supports women's health care and their access to contraception, while stating that Obamacare "threatens" people's freedoms.
An NBC/Marist poll released Wednesday found Shaheen leading Brown, 50 percent to 42 percent, with just 6 percent of respondents undecided. Other surveys have also found Shaheen comfortably ahead.
This story has been updated to include comment from The Guardian.