Right Wing’s Anti-Health Care Icon Is Uninsured, Seeking Donations To Pay For Care (Updated)

Last week, during a scuffle between health care town hall protesters and SEIU members at a town hall hosted by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), anti-health care reform protester Kenneth Gladney was injured and required hospitalization:

Among the injured was Kenneth Gladney, 38, of St. Louis. He said he was with the Tea Party, handing out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them, when he was assaulted. He said he sought hospital treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.

“I was attacked for something I believe in,” he said.

Since then, conservatives have been using Gladney’s case as a cause célèbre to claim that “union thugs” are being used to silence dissent at health care town halls and have turned him into a hero of their movement.


The irony is that Gladney’s situation underscores the vital need for health care reform. He was recently laid off and lost his insurance (14,000 Americans suffer a similar fate each day). Because he has no affordable health care option available, Gladney is now soliciting donations to pay his medical expenses:

Less than 48 hours later, protesters gathered Saturday in front of the union’s offices, many of them holding signs with a slightly different version of the message: “Don’t Tread on Kenny.” […]

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.

Commenting on the Gladney incident, The Moderate Voice writes, “Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. If anything was more calculated to make the Right look foolish than this St. Louis incident then I’d love to see it.”


Under the House’s health care proposal, Gladney would be guaranteed a coverage option and would likely receive a subsidy to purchase affordable health care.


The Washington Independent contacted Brown, who said his client Gladney is not uninsured after all. “He’s just unemployed,” says Brown, and “has insurance through his wife.”