Gladney the uninsured activist

GLADNEY THE UNINSURED ACTIVIST…. Over the last few days, a conservative activist in St. Louis named Kenneth Gladney seems to have become something of a cause celebre in far-right circles. Depending on which version of events you choose to believe, Gladney either initiated or was involved in a scuffle at a town-hall event late last week.

At least one prominent conservative blogger said Gladney was “brutally attacked” by SEIU members outside the event. After watching the video, there’s ample reason for skepticism. Gladney was, in fact, pulled to the ground during the fracas, but he seemed to bounce back up quickly, and is seen walking around soon after without any obvious injuries. His attorney has argued that Gladney was beaten during the fight, but there’s nothing in the clip to support that.

Gladney later went to the hospital, claiming to have sustained injuries to his “knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.”

Yesterday, about 200 conservative activists held a protest outside the SEIU office in St. Louis. Gladney was there — bandaged and in a wheelchair — as a featured guest. Some of the activists held signs that read, “Don’t Tread on Kenny.” Reader R.D. alerted me to this tidbit in the local news account of the protest:

Gladney did not address Saturday’s crowd of about 200 people. His attorney, David Brown, however, read a prepared statement Gladney wrote. “A few nights ago there was an assault on my liberty, and on yours, too.” Brown read. “This should never happen in this country.”

Supporters cheered. Brown finished by telling the crowd that Gladney is accepting donations toward his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was recently laid off and has no health insurance. [emphasis added]

Wait, the conservative opponent of health care reform, fighting (literally) to defeat a plan that would bring coverage to those who lose their jobs, lost his coverage because he got laid off?

I’m not in a position to say whether Gladney sustained genuine injuries or whether he’s exaggerating for 15 minutes of Fox News fame and a lucrative out-of-court settlement.

Either way, the new right-wing cause celebre needs to take up a collection to pay for his medical bills because he doesn’t have health insurance. It’s a fascinating sign of the times.

* Update: The Washington Independent spoke to Gladney’s attorney, who said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article is mistaken. Gladney did lose his job, the attorney said, but now has health insurance through his wife.

It’s unclear, at this point, a) why Gladney initially told reporters he has no insurance; and b) why he would need to solicit contributions from far-right activists to pay his medical bills if he already has coverage.