John Dingell — August 12, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Major Update re: Dingell and St. Louis Townhall Protesters


Cross-posted at the Daily Kos.

I have three major updates to my two Daily Kos Rec List diaries regarding last week’s Rep. John Dingell health care town hall meeting and about Kenneth Gladney, the protestor in St. Louis who claimed not to have health insurance.

Executive summary:

  1. Kenneth Gladney DOES have health insurance and he’s still collecting money anyway.
  2. Mike Sola, the man with the son in the wheelchair has refused to meet with Rep. John Dingell AND claims he’s being harrassed by liberal “thugs”.
  3. “Beret Guy” from my diary (I’ll tell you his name below) has a blog and he was ARRESTED at the Dingell rally and seems really proud of it. That’s this guy:

First, regarding Kenneth Gladney. Recall that this is the African American man who claimed he was beaten during a scuffle at a St. Louis town hall. Although video footage makes it pretty clear he was hardly “beaten” and that he showed up to the rally with his lawyer, he showed up the next day at another teabagger-style rally in a wheelchair claiming he was injured and he did the major television network circuit talking about his “assault”. It also came out that he, apparently, doesn’t have health insurance since he recently lost his job, and was asking for donations to cover his medical bills:

Kenneth Gladney sat in a wheelchair on Pershing Avenue Saturday, his knee bandaged, holding a flag that read: “Don’t Tread on Me.” Gladney, 38, was handing out the same flags after a town hall forum in Mehlville Thursday night, when, he says, he was attacked by members of the Service Employees International Union. 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.” Supporters cheered. [His attorney, David] 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.

Well, it turns out that this claim was a complete fabrication (i.e., a LIE.)

Brown said, contrary to recent reports like [the] one from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gladney wasn’t laid off and has health insurance. “He’s just unemployed,” says Brown, and “has insurance through his wife.” … Meanwhile, though Gladney appears to be just fine in the video right after he was supposedly beaten up, he showed up the next day at a tea party event in a wheelchair. At the event, Bill Hennessy, the organizer of the St. Louis tea parties, asked the crowd to donate money to Gladney to help him pay for his injuries, despite the fact that he now says he has insurance. When I asked Brown about this, he said: “Well, who doesn’t need a donation? If people want to give him a donation because he’s injured and unemployed, that’s up to them.” Brown said Gladney has raised about $1,100 in donations so far.

So he lied in public about needing money for his bills and is now profiting off his lie to the tune of over a grand in donations. Awesome. Second, at Rep. John Dingell’s health care town hall in Romulus, Michigan last week, two interesting characters were escorted out of the meeting. (You can find a slideshow of photos from the event HERE.) The first was Mike Sola, the man who wheeled his son with cerebral palsy to the front of the room and took the meeting hostage as he screamed at Rep. Dingell.

That’s this guy:
(Video of the confrontation HERE.)

As I reported in my Huffington Post article yesterday, Rep. Dingell offered to meet one-on-one with Mr. Sola to discuss his concerns. Sola refused.

From Rep. Dingell’s website:

I also was confronted by the father of a young man afflicted with cerebral palsy last night. He was under the impression that health reform legislation being considered in Congress would exclude care for his son’s condition. Unfortunately, he would not allow me an opportunity to respond to his concern. I’m sorry that Romulus Police had to escort them out, but he left officers no choice. We had 200 people in the hall, more than 200 people outside, and we could not let one person take over that meeting. My staff did offer the gentlemen a one-on-one meeting in my office, which is a more appropriate forum for a lengthy discussion about how the bill affects one person, but he refused. The offer still stands.

There’s more to this story as well. Sola did an interview with Fox “News” where he claims a “‘thug’ supporter of House speaker Nancy Pelosi came to his house in the middle of the night after the forum.”

“We had a visitor that night,” Sola told interviewer Megyn Kelly, without elaborating on what he meant. “A message was sent to my family. It has been reported to the … sheriff, their deputy has reported it to the Michigan state police.” “People are harassing you now Mike?” asked Kelly, who added that “our empathies all went out to you” when watching him at the town hall. “Yes they are,” Sola said. “And all I’m going to say to the person who doesn’t have the courage to do it in the daytime, I will use every means available to me — lethal force if necessary — to protect Scott (the disabled son) and my wife. Your message has been received. My wife is terrified. We have not told Scott about it. But if you — if I ever catch you on my property — I will take the risk of going to prison. But you will never again threaten my family.

The Freepers are, as you might imagine, ALL over this, claiming union thugs are responsible and embellishing the story to ridiculous levels. Finally, there’s “Beret Guy” who attended the second hour of Rep. Dingell’s two town hall meetings on August 6th. As you will recall from my diary, Beret Guy sat in the front row during the meeting and issued a non-stop stream of invective at whoever was speaking. Half-way through the meeting he got on a cell phone and stayed on it for some time. That didn’t, however, stop him from pausing from time to time and shouting “BULLSHIT!” and “LIAR!” at Rep. Dingell, even during the time when a question was being read. When he got up and approached the podium while riling up the crowd, he was finally removed from the room by Romulus police.

Turns out Beret Guy is Matt McCormick (also known as conservmatt on Twitter). According to his tweets, he was arrested after he was removed from the meeting.

Check out my arrest in Romulus Town Hall #rightmi #tcot #mi #rfcradio Dont mess with the old folks … and Dont yell at a town hall because somebody might threaten your family or arrest you #rightmi #rfcradio #tcotabout

Turns out McCormick has a blog called Motor City Matt. His description of the Romulus event is contained in an entry titled U.S Congressman John Dingell Exposes Himself to Elderly Women

After I was arrested at the event – see: ; the crowd seemed to get even more agitated than they were before. I was loud, I was angry and I was…right. I looked Johnny in the eye, told him to “Look at me, John.” and I called him what he is. All of it. Use your imagination. I wasn’t vulgar, and I was not threatening. However, I was correct. The cops pulled me out of the room, slapped a hand over my mouth in the hall and frog-marched me to the back of the building. I got cuffed, marched to the car, booked, fingerprinted, bailed out and bored. I feel fairly satisfied about how it all went. Gird your loins, Patriots. Be prepared. Stay awake. See what they do to you if you don’t agree with them: ; Smell victory, press the enemy, make him wary. Make him think, because he is incapable of thought. Make him use logic, because he is incapable of logic. Be without fear, because he is fearful. Be truthful, for he is lying.

McCormick also attended Rep. Dingell’s second meeting on Monday as well as President Obama’s visit to Michigan last month. He’s a busy guy. Perhaps the most ironic post on his blog is titled “Blogging For Idiots”:

I can easily say that I should write a book called Blogging For Idiots. For, if I can do it, all idiots can.

Yes indeed. Idiot. I couldn’t have described you better myself, Matt.

I’m just sayin’…

UPDATE: Rep. Dingell has written an Open Letter to Mike Sola. This was necessary because Mr. Sola refused to meet with Rep. Dingell in a face-to-face meeting. The letter is HERE and an excerpt is below.

Dear Mr. Sola, I know you left last week’s health care reform town hall in Romulus without answers to your question about what the bill does to help people with disabilities. I attempted to explain an amendment which was adopted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but sadly before I was able to give the details of that amendment, the crowd became disruptive. In my more than 50 years as a member of Congress I have always worked to represent my constituents, the great people of Michigan’s 15th Congressional District, well. In our exchange, I mentioned an amendment that I offered that would help disabled Americans, like your son, Scott. That amendment is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which would create a new, voluntary national insurance program for adults who become functionally disabled. This legislation will preserve the dignity of people who, despite their functional impairments, wish to continue living the American Dream – working, supporting their families, and living at home. This amendment, which I cosponsored with Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), passed by voice vote on day three of the healthcare markup. … Finally, your son will have a range of options when it comes to insurance plans. He will be able to keep his current plan, if so desired. No one will force him into any plan against his will. As a father I understand your concern. We all want the best health care for our children and loved ones. That is exactly why I sponsored H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. I strongly believe that quality, affordable health care is a right for all Americans, regardless of age, gender, disabilities and race. I believe this bill will give all people the peace of mind that comes from knowing that regardless of what twists and turns life brings, health insurance will always be available and affordable. Should you have specific questions about how the plan would affect you and your son, please do not hesitate to contact my office with those questions. We are happy to help explain how this bill might affect any Medicare or Medicaid benefits your son is entitled to and likely receiving. Sincerely, John D. Dingell Member of Congress

All pictures by my wife, Anne Savage. Visit her website at Revolutionary Views, her blog Glimpse and her Flickr page.