Gilbert taps Hollywood connections in Congressional run

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Democratic congressional candidate and former “Little House on the Prairie” sweetheart Melissa Gilbert raised more than $403,000 last year for her campaign against first-term Republican Rep. Mike Bishop, continuing to rely on entertainers for a lot of campaign cash.

Bishop, the former Michigan Senate majority leader from Rochester, outraised Gilbert last quarter, bringing in nearly $249,000 with about $590,150 in cash on hand through Dec. 31. Gilbert brought in almost $203,000 during the fourth quarter covering October through December.

Gilbert reported having roughly $254,250 cash on hand at year’s end, receiving contributions from celebrity performers including $3,500 from actor Michael Douglas, $5,400 from “Family Guy” producer Seth MacFarlane, $5,400 from actor Matthew Perry, $1,000 from writer Aaron Sorkin and $300 from actress Florence Henderson of “Brady Bunch” fame.

Her campaign also received $500 from folk singer Arlo Guthrie, $1,000 from Melissa Rivers, $1,050 from talk show host Sherri Shepherd, $1,000 from actor Seth Green, $500 from actress Elizabeth Perkins, $1,700 from “Family Guy” producer Daniel Palladino and $1,000 from singer Clay Aiken — who lost in his 2014 bid for a congressional seat in North Carolina.

Gilbert is married to actor-director Timothy Busfield. Several of his “thirtysomething” colleagues also contributed, including $1,000 from creator and executive producer Marshall Herskovitz, $600 from actor Peter Horton, and $500 from actor Ken Olin. Busfield, a native of the Lansing area, is also known for his roles in “The West Wing” and “Field of Dreams.”

Other donors include committees supporting politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; U.S. Rep. Nancy Kaptur, D-Ohio; former Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

Gilbert announced her candidacy in August after moving to Livingston County two years ago.

“Liberal extremists like Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, and Rosie O’Donnell support Melissa Gilbert’s Hollywood values and don’t care that she doesn’t pay taxes,” said Stu Sandler, spokesman for Bishop’s campaign, referring to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Gilbert is paying off in back taxes.

“Out-of-state and liberal extremists cannot force a Hollywood tax cheat on the 8th district.”

Gilbert’s campaign noted that 72 percent of her contributions from individuals came from inside Michigan.

“It’s clear Michiganders are responding to Melissa’s message of fighting for Michigan families,” Gilbert campaign manager James Stretch said.

Fundraising by the two campaigns differed in that Bishop brought in more money from interest groups, such as $5,000 from the American Resort Development Association PAC, $2,500 from BNSF Rail PAC, $2,500 from Express Scripts PAC, $1,000 from Exxon Mobil PAC and $2,000 from the American Bankers Association PAC. .

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