GOP slams Gilbert’s Flint aid pitch as self-serving

The Detroit News

Republicans are hitting actress and Democratic congressional hopeful Melissa Gilbert hard for trying to raise money from Flint’s contaminated water crisis in the name of nonpartisanship as she challenges first-term U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, in the 8th Congressional District.

In the email signed by Gilbert, she tells recipients that “As a mother, my greatest fear is that what’s happening in Flint would be happening to my children.”

She then goes on to say: “Enough is enough. Children and families in Flint need immediate relief — I’m calling on Congress to set aside partisanship and step up to help Flint. Will you join me?

“Please click here to sign your name to demand Congress take action to help the children and families of Flint.”

The click immediately leads to a Melissa Gilbert for Congress donation page.

“Shame on Melissa Gilbert for exploiting the Flint water crisis to play politics and fundraise for her campaign,” Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement this week. “No one should fundraise off of the suffering of Flint families. This is a time for all of Michigan to come together and work on solutions.”

On the House floor Wednesday, Bishop took a thinly veiled shot at Gilbert himself by saying “shame” on those who tried to capitalize on the Flint issue and use the situation for their own gain.

GOP Gov. Rick Snyder has primarily assumed responsibility for the Flint water crisis, since his Department of Environmental Quality failed to insist on the addition of corrosion controls when the city switched in April 2014 from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as its source. But he has said the city of Flint and federal officials also share some blame for the lead contamination of the water.

“Melissa has been asking her supporters to volunteer, donate and help the children and families of Flint in any way they can,” Gilbert campaign manager James Stretch said in a statement. “Melissa and her son volunteered with the Flint Red Cross, unloading water bottles for city residents.

“The people of Flint need our help, and the politicians in Lansing and Washington have turned a blind eye to this crisis. Melissa has stepped up to take action.”

Clinton family fundraisers

The Hillary Clinton campaign is continuing to mine Michigan for money as it battles the insurgent candidacy of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The campaign has scheduled two fundraisers this week — one for daughter Chelsea Clinton in Metro Detroit and one for former President Bill Clinton in Grand Rapids, according to a fundraising email obtained by The Detroit News.

Before Chelsea Clinton tours Flint and Detroit on Thursday, she is scheduled to sit down for a fundraising lunch in Birmingham. Those who contribute $2,700 get to “co-host” the reception and are invited to a “future event with Hillary or President Bill Clinton.”

Those who donate $1,000 get the lunch and a photo with the former first daughter. And those who pony up $250 will be considered a “friend.” The lunch is being hosted by Gretchen and Ethan Davidson, the son of the late industrialist and Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson.

The Friday afternoon fundraiser with Bill Clinton is scheduled at the Grand Rapids area home of labor lawyer Elizabeth Welch. But it will cost donors an extra $500 — or $1,500 — to get a photo with the former president compared with the ex-first daughter, according to the fundraising email. “Attendees” are expected to make a minimum contribution of $500.

Former Secretary of State Clinton has held two fundraisers in Michigan in the past year, and President Clinton has held one fundraiser in Metro Detroit.

Contributors: Richard Burr and Melissa Nann Burke