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Woman sells written letter from Obama to pay for her house and medical bills

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, November 2, 2010 14:10 EDT
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A 28-year old economically distressed woman who received a handwritten note from President Barack Obama assuring her that things will get better is now selling it to pay for her house and medical bills.

Jennifer Cline of Monroe, Michigan wrote to Obama months ago telling him she and her husband lost their jobs. “I lost my job, my health benefits and my self-worth in a matter of five days,” Cline wrote.

She also successfully battled two types of skin cancer and returned to college after her unemployment benefits were restored. “In just a couple of years we will be in a great spot,” she told the president.

Obama, who reportedly saw the note in January, wrote back on a White House letterhead: “Thanks for the very kind and inspiring letter. I know times are tough, but knowing there are folks out there like you and your husband gives me confidence that things will keep getting better!”

But things sadly didn’t get better, and the New York Post reports that Cline on Saturday sold the letter for $7,000 to Gary Zimet, an autograph dealer, to help pay for her home and medical bills.

“Handwritten letters of any sitting president on White House letterhead are extremely rare,” Zimet told the Post. “It is certainly worth more than I am paying for it.”

Zimet said she was “selling the letter for a down payment on a house and to pay off medical bills from her cancer treatment.” He added: “But I don’t think she’s disillusioned with Obama — this is just about surviving and practicality. She is selling it to pay for a house, which I think is poetic justice.”

The story underscores just how economically brutal the last few years have been, with joblessness and foreclosures extraordinarily high since 2008. Cline’s plight is shared by many Americans.

The story was picked up by Zaid Jilani of Think Progress and David Dayen of Firedoglake. Dayen calls it the “story of the election.”

 
 
 
 
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