GOP Uses Melissa Gilbert’s Tax Troubles Against Her in Michigan Congressional Race

“You can take the actress out of Hollywood, but you can’t take the Hollywood out of the actress,” said Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. “Those Hollywood values are not Michigan values. Gilbert needs to understand that the hardworking people of Michigan don’t live the cushy life of a Hollywood celebrity.”

“One thing is certain, Gilbert’s free spending and irresponsible financial management would fit right in with Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats who have driven our national debt to $19 trillion,” Romney McDaniel added. “The people of the 8th District will not place their trust in a candidate for Congress who has done such a poor job of balancing her own checkbook at a time when it is imperative that we get our fiscal house in order.”

Gilbert does not dispute the fact that she and her husband and fellow actor Tim Busfield owe more than $360,000 in federal income taxes. She said they have set up a payment plan with the IRS.

"Like so many people across the nation, the recession hit me hard," Gilbert said in a statement. "That, plus a divorce and a dearth of acting opportunities the last few years, created a perfect storm of financial difficulty for me."

Gilbert and Busfield, who grew up in Michigan, moved their family from California to Michigan two years ago. Both said that was unrelated to their tax problems with the IRS.

But it is also true California tax officials are after the couple, too. State officials in California have filed $112,527 worth of tax liens against her since 2013.

This is Gilbert’s first campaign for political office. But, it is not like Gilbert doesn’t have any political experience. She served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005.

That’s where Ronald Reagan started, right?

And Gilbert was active in the campaign of Democrat Mark Schauer, who failed to unseat Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in 2014.

During a campaign event for Schauer in Grand Rapids, Mich., Gilbert told PJM it was an epiphany on a treadmill that led her to the Schauer campaign.

“I was walking on the treadmill at the gym and was going on and on and on about the state of Michigan, and how I thought this governor (Snyder) was not doing what I thought he should be doing, and I did a search to find out who was running against him,” she said.

Bishop, even though he is the incumbent in the 8th Congressional District, might be a little bit worried. He is the newest addition to the Republican Party’s Patriot Program, an online program to help raise money for GOP members of Congress who could face a tougher than anticipated race in the 2016 election.

And maybe he and the GOP should be concerned.

“One of the biggest hurdles for newcomers to politics is name recognition. It’s one of the big reasons incumbents have such an advantage, because they are more well-known to the average voter in the district,” Matt A. Barreto, a political science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Washington Post. “So when celebrities enter politics, they have an advantage early on of name recognition.”

More than 4,000 people have “liked” Gilbert’s Facebook campaign page. One of her most recent Facebook followers urged Gilbert to “Never be as mean as the Republicans and win anyways!”