Former Maid: Whitman Knew I Was Here Illegally

LOS ANGELES (CBS 5/AP) — California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant Mexican housekeeper for years even though the federal government alerted her in 2003 to the maid’s dubious legal status, the worker and her attorney claimed Wednesday.

The Republican Whitman—who on the campaign trail has called for tougher sanctions against employers who hire illegal workers— said the allegations amounted to a baseless stunt. She said she was not aware the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, was in the U.S. illegally until the woman volunteered the information in 2009, after which Whitman fired her. In all, the woman worked for the Whitman family for nine years, making $23 an hour.

Whitman also denied Diaz’s claim that she received a 2003 letter from the Social Security Administration that said the Social Security number provided by the housekeeper did not match the name on file.

“We never received that letter or that notification,” Whitman said after a campaign event in San Jose.

Her campaign released employment applications filled out when the housekeeper was hired in 2000, including a copy of a Social Security card and a California driver’s license, that indicated the woman was a legal resident.

The allegations by Diaz, 39, and her attorney, Gloria Allred of Los Angeles, a longtime Democratic supporter who once gave money to Whitman’s opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown, challenged Whitman’s credibility on a key campaign issue, illegal immigration. The billionaire former eBay chief executive has called for tough sanctions, starting with fines, against employers who hire illegal workers.

“We do have to hold employers accountable for hiring only documented workers. And we do have to enforce that law,” Whitman said Tuesday in a debate with Brown at the University of California, Davis.

Throughout her employment “Nicky was undocumented and …

Whitman was aware of her status,” Allred said.

The timing of the allegations about five weeks from Election Day, the lack of documentation to support the claims and Allred’s Democratic ties left her open to questions about motive in the dead-heat race. Allred was a Hillary Rodham Clinton delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Asked about timing and her political links at a new conference, Allred said the former housekeeper “just recently contacted me.” She noted her donation to Brown in his race for attorney general was $150, although she has given to other Democrats, including President Barack Obama and California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The allegations also come ahead of a scheduled Saturday Spanish-language debate that will include questions of importance to the Hispanic community.

Whitman has aggressively targeted Hispanic voters, who are typically Democratically aligned, and recent public opinion polls show she is having some success. Just this week, she won the endorsement of comedian Paul Rodriguez, who cited her commitment to restoring water to Central Valley farms.

Allred claims Whitman received the letter from the Social Security Administration on April 22, 2003, which noted a discrepancy between the Social Security number provided by the housekeeper and the name on file with the agency. Allred did not provide a copy of the letter, but said she would release “evidence” to support the claim Thursday.

Such letters can be a tip-off about possible immigration problems, although the agency stopped sending them to employers in 2007.

The housekeeper said she was told to “check on this,” then never heard about the letter again. Allred said Whitman continued to receive letters about the mismatched Social Security number, which Diaz found in the trash.

Agency spokesman Mark Lassiter said that from 2003-2006 an employer had to have more than 10 employees whose Social Security numbers and names did not match to receive a warning letter. It was not immediately clear how many domestic employees Whitman had during that time.

“An employer with one or two employees in 2003 to 2006 would not have gotten an employer … letter,” Lassiter said.

Whitman’s campaign said in a statement that Diaz came to Whitman and her husband in June 2009 and confessed that she had used her sister’s documents to gain employment in the U.S. That was five months after Whitman formed an exploratory committee to run for governor.

In an interview Wednesday on Fox Business News, Whitman called the accusation that she knew Diaz was an illegal immigrant “a lie.”

In 2000, when Diaz was hired through an agency, “we specified with the agent we wanted to make sure we had someone who was here legally to work in the United States. No one was more surprised when she came to (me) in June 2009 and admitted she was here illegally and had forged the documents.” The Whitman campaign would not provide the name of the employment agency.

Allred also said Diaz was mistreated, and said she will file a claim against Whitman for back pay and mileage. She provided no proof to document those allegations.

Brown’s spokesman, Sterling Clifford, said in a statement that Whitman apparently 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.”

Clifford said the Browns use a well-known national housekeeping service that comes twice a month to their home in the Oakland Hills. He said Brown has never knowingly employed an illegal immigrant.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.)

  • Big G

    All you need to know is the name of who is doing the suing. Gloria, enough said, This lady makes ambulance chasing atty’s look like Saints. She is actually suing the Duggard girl over not wanting to have contact with her Father, who does that to another human, Gloria does!!!

  • JCB

    These liberals really are under handed. How about conflict of interest on the part of Allred. She donated to Brown and is suing the opponent. I’m sure there is some way in the liberal world this is OK.

  • assitch

    No that we know she is illegal, let’s deport her!!!

    • itsjustfunny

      That was my first thought… she just made herself a red flag to the INS!

  • alba

    VOTE MEG ! If everyone fired their illegal help, we’d create lots of jobs for Americans, reduce crime, improve school dropout rates, and sleep better !

    And thank you, Gloria, for bringing this illegal to our attention. Let’s send her back, please, and make sure she doesn’t sneak out to Boston to share a place in public housing with Obama’s Kenyan illegal aunt…

    • nljab

      It’s nice to know ALBA wants to be somebody’s maid and field worker… :)

  • GOD_is_a_Leftie

    Well, lord forbid Conservatives do anything for selfish reasons… god help us.

  • Unsure

    The best policy is always to Walk the Walk, not just Talk the Talk. Meg, you should have known this would come to light eventually.

    • Costa

      She fired her after she found out, she had fake SSN and driver license. And she hired her from an agency that does pre-screening.

      I mean how do we all know who is legal or not whne we do business with them.

  • Mancha

    You all don’t know what it is to suffer and to live in a country that is corrupt and filled with cartels. The cartels are the ones running the country as you can see. All we come here is for a better life and not to take anthing away from anybody. Don’t just speak from your teeth out but put on the other sides shoes and you may understand a little better.

    • John

      Doen’t mean 20 million of you can come here illegally though!

    • your mom

      well when youre here illegally,you “are” taking away from,housing,schools are overcrowded..etc..just quit having 10 babies each and everyone will be fine..haha!

  • SickOf It

    It wasn’t cold & heartless – what IS cold & heartless is the way ILLEGALS expect everybody to help them. There are plenty of CITIZENS that need help & they get door after door slammed in their face. If you come here ILLEGALLY there are consequences & you MUST deal with them. Finding help is on you! Pack up & head out – your homeland is waiting for you!

    • JK

      I agree with you 100%! I am a US Citizen and have been working since I was 15. Last year my husband was laid off and my hours were reduced to 15 hours per week. We have 3 kids and almost lost everything because we couldn’t get any help. I have been paying taxes for 19 years and I couldn’t get any assistance. I sure as hell would have made a killing had I been here illegally!

  • CC

    My mother-in-law who was born in Mexico became a legal US citizen in the 50s or 60s. One day over dinner she explained how very angry she was with people from her birth country. She didn’t like it one bit to see them move here and not even try to become a US citizen. She believed that she worked hard to get where she was and that they should do the same.

  • Scott

    niether canidate will be able to solve California’s problems. To say it’s unfair for Democrats to bring this up now after the Meg campaign has spent millions bashing Brown is BS. A vote for Whitman is against the working class, and one for Brown will support the middle. These are the facts, and if Right wing media gets you to believe otherwise then you’re an idiot

  • cabrone

    boo hoo I had a 15 hour work week and was fired, wahh!!!

    I lied and am in the country illegally but I was abused!!! I am the victim, wahhh!!!

    • JK

      Yeah a 15 hour work week and she was paid $23/per hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • No Status, NO RIGHTS!!

    ..and why is she still in this country? Just another, are you F’ing kidding me? moment…

  • Fed up voter

    Democrat or Republcan, I am tired of people doing the very same thing they claim to so strongly ooppose. Voters aren’t idiots.

    As for being illegal or legal, they are still human beings. Lets not forget that legal and citizens as well get abused by their employers as well. People need to stop making excuses that justify that type of treatment.

  • Clif

    This event basically just flushed the 120 million dollars spent by Meg down the drain.
    She could spend that money creating jobs and help some desperate Californians!

  • none

    wow, alot of rednecks here

    • Proud Redneck

      We’re rednecks because we don’t candy coat the truth.

  • SickOfStupidPeople

    What a joke! I’d fire that woman too just based on how pathetic she looks. It must not have been that bad for her to last 9 years. She could have cleaned someone else’s house easily if it was that bad. Of course no one else would have paid her the $23/hour Meg was paying her…

  • Kikker

    While they’re at it they should deport Gloria Allred back to skanknia…

  • Really!?!?!?

    It’s Meg’s fault? For actually believing the employment agency with the fake SSN. Then terminating employment when she found out that her worker was here illegally.

    Doesn’t make any sense

    I don’t even like Meg but it sound pretty F’ed up what this person (still in this country illegally) is doing now…

  • Bee Jay

    America is something else. EVERYONE came here from somehwere else except Native Americans, who were treated horribly by the trash that drifted here from Europe. Don’t be fooled by Meg Pitviper Whitman. This woman is a viper on two legs. HEr thinly veiled ads for the primaries basically revealed her as little more than Satan’s daughter.

    • Proud American

      I like to believe we came here legally. I believe its called Ellis Island. Legal, illegal. No comparison. Try again.

      • whitegingers

        What you fail to remember is that Ellis Island was created long after most white folks came to “America” illegally (ie the original settlers who arrived, slaughtered Native Americans, and stole the land)… and so you now justify it by saying you are “legal”..

    • Dawg

      Sorry pal, but the Native Americans came from somewhere else too.

  • moi

    I have a friend who works at a hotel where Gloria stayed at once. She ordered some kind of a cable and he sent it to her room. He saw her without makeup as she was getting ready in the morning. He said she looks like a monster without makeup and her hair done (I say she looks like a monster either way).

  • Adam

    So this illegal has been stealing identities for over a decade and somehow she is the victim? What about the people whose credit has been destroyed and who’ve been dealing with the IRS about all the unreported income mysteriously tied to their SSNs?

    If Whitman had fired or refused to hire this illegal when Whitman “suspected” she were illegal, this would be a ranting story about how Whitman is a bigot.

  • allen

    The only group trusted less than politicians? Lawyers!

  • Ann

    What’s wrong with this picture?? The illegal committed felonies and she should be deported. So why is she making light of this? To have legal status?? Send her back NOW. This is just another Brown campaign stunt. Meg did the right thing by firing her. I wouldn’t be associated with the illegal

  • JEYE

    Sounds like CYA time for Whitman,,, She had to stutter through her lying explanations with a bunch of “you know’s”! What a hypocrite…

  • Proud Veteran

    Politics at it’s worst. Shame on Gloria, Jerry and Nicky. This confirms that I will vote for Meg. Nicky is guilty of forgery and illegally entering the United States. She needs to leave the US immediately. Someone needs to tell Gloria,… Birds of a feather flock together.

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