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Meg Whitman knew housekeeper was in U.S. illegally, attorney claims

10:29 PM, Sep 29, 2010   |    comments
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LOS ANGELES, CA - Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred accused
gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman of knowingly employing an undocumented worker for seven years.

Allred says the housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz-Santillan, worked for Whitman from 2000 to 2009, when she was fired.

Allred claims Whitman received a letter from the Social Security Administration on April 22, 2003, saying the Social Security number provided by the housekeeper did not match the name on file.

Diaz-Santillan said she saw the letter but said Whitman and her husband never asked about her immigration status.

Whitman told reporters Wednesday she never received the letter.  She said she fired Diaz-Santillan in June 2009 when the worker told her she was in the country illegally. 

In a statement, Whitman said, "After 9 years of faithful service, Nicky came to us in June 2009 and confessed that she was an illegal worker. Nicky had falsified the hiring documents and personal information she provided to the employment agency that brought her to us in 2000. Nicky told me that she was admitting her deception now because she was aware that her lie might come out during the campaign. Nicky said she was concerned about hurting my family and me."

The statement goes on to read, "As required by law, once we learned she was an illegal worker, I immediately terminated Nicky's employment. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I considered Nicky a friend and a part of our extended family."

Whitman also released the documents Diaz-Santillan completed in 2000, when she falsified her legal status. 

Allred said her client's legal status is only one part of the story.  She also described Diaz-Santillan's tenure at the Whitman household as a "nightmare" and said Diaz-Santillan was "exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused" by the Whitman family. 

The attorney said she would be filing a claim against Whitman, alleging Whitman refused to pay Diaz-Santillan for time she worked longer than 15 hours a week, and refused to reimburse Diaz-Santillan for her mileage.

Whitman responded, saying, "I believe Nicky is being manipulated by Gloria Allred for political and financial purposes during the last few weeks of a hotly contested election. This is a shameful example of the politics of personal destruction practiced by people like Jerry Brown and Gloria Allred. The charges are without merit."

The Whitman campaign also pointed out that Allred is a registered Democrat and longtime supporter of Jerry Brown. 

Brown's campaign issued the following statement in response to Allred's allegations:

"Nicky Diaz has a compelling story, and it is our hope that she will be treated with respect and dignity as this story unfolds."

"Once again, Meg Whitman has shown that she thinks the rules don't apply to her. After more than a year of Whitman demanding immigration policy that "holds employers accountable," we learn that accountability doesn't extend to her own actions. From the start, Meg Whitman has failed to tell Californians the truth - about her voting record, her positions on climate change, her history of conflict with staffers, or about Jerry Brown. California deserves a governor who tells the truth."

News10/KXTV and The Associated Press

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