Meg Whitman faces a political firestorm today resulting from the allegations made by her former housekeeper that the Republican gubernatorial candidate knew her work status was illegal when she worked for her during her nine years of employment.
Whitman has scheduled a 10:30 a.m. news conference to discuss the issues.
Nicky Diaz Santillan, Whitman’s former hosuekeeper also claims she was “emotionally and financially abused” during her employment by Whitman.
Santillan made the claims at the offices of her attorney Gloria Allred, who said she will provide additional proof of her client’s claims at noon today.
Whitman, who acknowledges that Santillan worked for her, nevertheless vehemently denies her allegations, calling them politically motivated.
Allred told reporters Wednesday said Santillan worked as a housekeeper for Whitman for nine years before she was fired last year.
“In short, it was a nightmare,” Allred said.
Allred said that during the woman’s years of employment, Whitman caused her “to feel exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused.”
“The relationship was terminated last year by Ms. Whitman for what appeared to be political reasons involving Ms. Whitman’s decision to run for governor,” Allred said.
Allred contended that Whitman knew her client was an illegal immigrant, but kept her employed until she decided to run for governor.
In a statement, Whitman said Santillan falsified hiring documents and personal information she gave to an employment agency, then later admitted to her in June 2009 she was an undocumented immigrant.
“Nicky told me that she was admitting her deception now because she was aware that her lie might come out during the campaign,” Whitman said. “Nicky said she was concerned about hurting my family and me.
“As required by law, once we learned she was an illegal worker, I immediately terminated Nicky’s employment,” Whitman said. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I considered Nicky a friend and a part of our extended family.”
Whitman said she believed Santillan was being “manipulated” by Allred, and the allegation is “a shameful example of the politics of personal destruction practiced by people like Jerry Brown and Gloria Allred.”
Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera said Allred’s news conference was politically motivated. She called Allred “a shameful manipulator” who is a supporter of Brown — Whitman’s Democratic opponent in the hotly contested governor’s race.
“With the polls tied, it comes as no surprise that the morning after a successful debate for Meg that the sleaze machine of the political left is now focused on the politics of personal destruction.”
The Whitman campaign noted that Allred donated $1,000 to Brown in 1982 and $150 to Brown in 2006.
Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said the Santillan case “has shown that she (Whitman) 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,” Clifford said. “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.”
Allred claimed Santillan was not paid for all of the hours she worked, and said she would be filing a claim against Whitman with the State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Fighting back tears, Santillan told reporters she approached Whitman and said she didn’t have “papers to work here” and needed help. Santillan said Whitman later left her a voicemail message saying she could not help her and adding, “from now on you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You never have seen me, and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?”
Allred also said her client knows the risk that she is taking and said that Whitman may try to retaliate against her, using her power, money and influential contacts.
There was no word on whether federal immigration authorities will now go after the self-proclaimed undocumented immigrant.