WASHINGTON — Former Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert, now a Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan, had income totaling at least $100,000 in each of the last two years — and possibly more — and credit card debts dating from 2011 and 2012 totaling at least $60,000,according to a financial disclosure.
The disclosure, filed with the U.S. House this week, indicated that Gilbert and her husband, actor and director Timothy Busfield, have total assets worth at least $818,000, and perhaps as much as $1.7 million, though that doesn’t include estimates for several pension and retirement funds or some potential residual and royalty payments for their work.
Gilbert, 51, who lives in Brighton with Busfield, last month announced her intention to run as a Democrat for the nomination in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.
In all, Gilbert listed income from her own assets of between $101,404 and $1,004,500 in 2014, and between $100,203 and $1,001,200 so far this year, meaning she has made at least $201,607 since the beginning of 2014. Members and candidates for Congress are only required to report a range of income, not specific amounts.
Much of the income came from Half Pint Enterprises Inc., Gilbert’s Los Angeles corporation set up to receive income from her acting, writing and personal appearances, as well as residuals and royalties earned prior to 2014. Gilbert is best known as a star of Little House, a hit for NBC in the 1970s and ‘80s.
In terms of earned income, Gilbert made just over $70,000 for acting and appearances in 2014; and slightly more, about $79,000 so far, in 2015, which included $1,094 for an appearance on Steve Harvey’s TV show. The rest of her income was unearned or interest income.
As allowed by the rules regarding financial disclosures, the majority of Busfield’s income was not disclosed, nor was some $473,000 in federal and state tax liens her campaign has said she expects to pay back by 2024 under agreements with the IRS and the state of California. Federal and state tax bills do not have to be included in financial disclosures.
However, the financial disclosure did include two credit card liabilities: one for between $50,001 and $100,000 incurred in 2011-12, and another for between $10,001 and $15,000 from July-August 2012. Her campaign didn’t immediately answer questions about the credit card debt, which was incurred before she moved to Michigan in 2013.
Gilbert’s announcement came last month in a district where she is considered a long shot against a well-known incumbent, but where her celebrity and national profile could work to her advantage — especially in fund-raising. While she has no political experience, she has run campaigns before and won — specifically as a two-term president of the Screen Actors Guild — and Democrats are hoping higher turnout in a presidential election year could help her hopes.