By all accounts, she did. The question now is how long she knew, and what she did when she finally learned of the woman’s undocumented status.
California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s been under fire this week over allegations that she knowingly hired an undocumented housekeeper. The former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, maintains that she put up with nine years of poor treatment while employed by Whitman, and that the former eBay boss — who’s rallied against undocumented immigrants on the campaign trail — knew about her immigration status, and reportedly has the documents to prove it.
At a press conference today in Santa Monica, Whitman argued that she fired Diaz Santillan as soon as she learned about the woman’s undocumented status. When pressed by reporters, Whitman even went as far as saying she’d take a lie detector test to prove that she’s telling the truth.
Whitman’s campaign has been quick to portray the allegations as a publicity stunt. They’ve pointed to Diaz Santillan’s high powered attorney Gloria Allred as a seasoned pro in manipulating people for “political and financial purposes.”
Both sides agree that on June 29, 2009, Diaz Santillan told Whitman about her status and asked for her help in getting an immigration attorney. And her reaction?
“Ms. Whitman just laughed and turn her face to one side. At that moment Dr. Harsh [Whitman’s husband] entered,” Diaz Santillan told Talking Points Memo. “Dr. Harsh was very angry and said, “I told you, I told you she was going to bring us problems!”
That reaction shouldn’t surprise anyone. Whitman’s spent millions on trying to get Latino voters to forget anti-immigrant primary promises. And while a recent LA Times poll revealed that the money’s not working as well as she’d hoped, there’s not signs that she’ll slow down any time soon.
But even amid controversy, the Los Angeles Times reports that Whitman found a useful way to make the saga part of her political platform.
“I was not going to make an example of Nicky,” Whitman said, adding that this situation shows why the country needs a temporary guest worker program, along with a reliable electronic method for employers to check the status of employees.