Janne went to Washington, DC for a press conference.

June 8, 1999

Janne O'Donnell and Trisha Johnson went to Washington, DC to speak at a press conference on June 8, 1999. The subject of the press conference was students and credit card debt.

Here is what Janne said at the press conference.

Press release From the Consumer Federation of America web page.

Pictures of Janne O'Donnell and Trisha Johnson at the press conference.

Ten Years Later

Ten years later on May 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Credit Card Reform Act. At about 13 minutes into the 16 minute video at C-SPAN.org, President Obama hugs Janne O'Donnell. Janne O'Donnell with President Obama in the Whitehouse Rose Garden.



THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Please, have a seat -- I'm sorry. It is a great pleasure to have all of you here at the White House on this gorgeous, sunny day. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Change is in the air. (Laughter.)

This has been a historic week; a week in which we've cast aside some old divisions and put in place new reforms that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, prevent fraud against homeowners, and save taxpayers money by preventing wasteful government contracts; a week that marks significant progress in the difficult work of changing our policies and transforming our politics.

But the real test of change ultimately is whether it makes a difference in the lives of the American people. That's what matters to me. That's what matters to my administration. That's what matters to the extraordinary collection of members of Congress that are standing with me here, but also who are in the audience. And we're here today because of a bill that will make a big difference: the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act.

I want to thank all the members of Congress who were involved in this historic legislation, but I want to give a special shout-out to Chris Dodd, who has been a relentless fighter to get this done. (Applause.) Chris wouldn't give up until he got this legislation passed. He's spent an entire career fighting against special interests and fighting for ordinary people, and this is just the latest example.

The rest of what the president said is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-signing-of-the-Credit-Card-Accountability-Responsibility-and-Disclosure-Act/.

Other Older Stories

Investigative newspaper reporter Ashley White wrote a newspaper article about credit card debt and students. Her story includes Sean and Mitzi and is available online at http://hub.ou.edu/articles/article.php?article_id=94693339.


Trueworks has produced a documentary movie called Maxed Out, directed by James Scurlock. The world premier was in Austin Texas on 11 March 2006 at the South by SouthWest film festival in Austin, Texas. Sean's mother appears in the movie. Ronald Reagan, James Earl Carter, and Alan Greenspan, and a dog wearing an abtronic device also appear in the movie.

MaxedOut is a trademark of Trueworks, Inc.. The movie web page is at http://www.maxedoutmovie.com/.

There is also a fan web page for the movie at http://www.maxedoutbuzz.com/.

GEOFF PEVERE of the Toronto Star writes:

Then there's James Scurlock's powerfully moving but decidedly unsettling Maxed Out (which won a prize here Tuesday night). Also inspired by the filmmaker's simple curiosity about just what got people so deeply and irrecoverably in debt, Maxed Out traces a similar, abstract-to-individual journey. His movie makes such a powerful indictment against a financial industry that preys on the weak and vulnerable, with an utter lack of either moral or judicial restraint, because it's anchored in the frequently wrenching testimonies of the people at the bottom. The problem may be big, but the pain is personal.

James D. Scurlock (Director/Producer) and Alexis Spraic (Editor) Jon Aaron Aaseng (Director of Photography) Here is a photo of James D. Scurlock (Director/Producer) and Alexis Spraic (Editor), and a photo of Jon Aaron Aaseng (Director of Photography), taken at the world premier of Maxed Out in Austin, TX on March 11, 2006.

truly indie has more about Maxed Out at http://www.trulyindie.com/ti/maxedoutfilm.htm.

Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL)

Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL) has a web page about Maxed Out, the movie, Directed by James D. Scurlock.

The following is how AFFIL describes themselves.

Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL) exists to raise awareness of abusive credit and lending practices and to call for re-regulation of the industry. AFFIL is the collaborative effort of numerous partner and ally organizations, each contributing their expertise to AFFIL and the public through AFFIL activities. As a group, we are committed to using a unified and consistent national message to raise the volume of our collective outrage and to shine a spotlight on predatory and unfair lending practices. AFFIL intends to generate a groundswell of public support for regulation of the lending industry to ensure fairness in lending for all Americans.

At denverpost.com is a review of Maxed Out. http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_5346710 Michelle Singletary has a review at washingtonpost.com in The Color of Money Book Club. Washingtonpost.com may require registration to view the original content at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/03/AR2007030300065.html.

Story by journalist Kevan Goff-Parker at http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=5090532

AFFIL Launch in New York City on March 6, 2007. The official launch of Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL) was on March 6, 2007 in New York City.

Kirsten Keefe at the premier of the documentary movie Maxed Out in New York City.

Kirsten Keefe Kirsten Keefe is the Executive Director of Americans for Fairness in Lending. She also works as an attorney with the Empire Justice Center, a non-profit legal services organization, where she practices consumer law. Keefe is a frequent trainer of counselors and lawyers on consumer law issues. As Director of AFFIL, Keefe has brought together a diverse group of organizations to develop a communications strategy using the media, advertising and film to draw national attention to problems with the lending industry.

Senate Banking Committee Hearing Room. There is ornate wood paneling. The staff and board of directors met with the staff of Senator Levin here on March 7, 2007, the day of hearings on predatory lending practices.

Photo of Janne O'Donnell Janne O'Donnell is now on the Board of Directors of Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL).

Help with the fight against predatory lending by joining AFFIL.

A story at usatoday.com.

http://www.creditcardnation.com/ is a web page with more information about credit card debt.

Here are links to some of the resulting news stories and other stuff about Sean on the web:

Credit Card Companies and Agenda Bruce Schneier wrote at http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0603.html#10:

To understand why it's happening, you need to understand the trade-offs and the agenda. From the point of view of the credit card company, the benefits of giving someone a credit card is that he'll use it and generate revenue. The risk is that it's a fraudster who will cost the company revenue. The credit card industry has dealt with the risk in two ways: they've pushed a lot of the risk onto the merchants, and they've implemented fraud detection systems to limit the damage.

All other costs and problems of identity theft are borne by the consumer; they're an externality to the credit card company. They don't enter into the trade-off decision at all.


July 12, 2004
Sean's Visit with My Daughter
Kerri Bales, Norman, Oklahoma, May 2004, info@ghostvillage.com

I was home with my toddler on a weekday morning, and we were doing our usual stuff. I was sitting in a chair in the living room watching TV, while she stood in front of the couch playing with some small toys on the coffee table. I was in a very relaxed state, and I'll admit I was somewhat sleepy. I would watch some of the program, and every minute or so I would glance in the direction of my daughter to see what she was doing. At one point I looked at her and saw, quite clearly, the figure of my friend Sean standing next to her. Sean hanged himself in his bedroom closet on February 7 of 1998. He was 22 years old, and I had known him for 12 years when he died. We had been very close.

When I saw Sean standing next to my daughter, I felt some surprise, but no fear or tension. He stood still, to her left, and was looking down at her. He was facing me and had his right arm outstretched toward her, and his hand on the base of the back of her neck. His entire posture seemed loving and calm. He was not looking at me at all, but seemed entirely focused on her. He was there for only a few seconds and then was gone. I remember clearly that he was wearing jeans and a red Shetland sweater. My daughter did seem to be looking at him, but said nothing and did not react in any way.

I miss Sean terribly, and his death devastated me. Shortly after he died I had five vivid dreams in which he was talking to me, but after those ended I experienced nothing unusual in regard to him or his death. The fact that he was "visiting" me now, so long after his death, perplexed me. I have no explanation for this event, and only wished that he had stayed longer.

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