Whitman Husband Saw Letter Questioning Housekeeper, Lawyer Says

A handwritten note on a Social Security Administration letter shows Meg Whitman’s husband saw it and contradicts denials by California’s Republican candidate for governor, according to a lawyer for the couple’s former housekeeper.

Attorney Gloria Allred showed reporters today what she said was a copy of a 2003 letter asking for confirmation of the name, social security number and employment status of the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan. Allred said a notation on the letter -- “Nicky, please check this. Thanks.” -- was written by Whitman’s husband, Dr. Griffith Harsh.

“A mismatch of a Social Security number to an employee’s name is a clue that the employee may be undocumented,” Allred said in a Los Angeles press conference. In a statement, Harsh said he didn’t recall seeing the letter.

Diaz, the Whitman’s housekeeper for nine years, was fired in June 2009 when she admitted falsifying immigration documents. Whitman, the former chief executive officer of EBay Inc., knew the maid was illegal and ignored it until she became a candidate for governor, Allred said yesterday.

Whitman said she and her husband only became aware of Diaz’s undocumented status when she revealed it to them in June of last year. In a press conference today, Whitman said neither she nor her husband had seen the Social Security letter. Whitman said Diaz was responsible for collecting their mail.

“She may have intercepted the letter,” Whitman said. “Nicky did bring in and sort our mail. She might have been on the lookout for that letter.”

Handwriting Claim

An hour and a half later, Allred released a copy of the letter with what she claimed was Harsh’s handwriting.

“We have clearly proven, with the release of this letter, that Meg Whitman lied to the press and the public when she said ‘We never received that letter and notification,’” Allred said today.

Harsh, in a statement following Allred’s release of the letter, said he didn’t recall it, though “it is possible that I would’ve scratched a follow-up note on a letter like this.”

“Neither Meg nor I believed there was a problem with Nicky’s legal status and I certainly don’t recall ever discussing it with my wife, nor did I ever show her any letter about it,” Harsh said.

The Social Security Administration sends so-called “no- match” letters to employers and employees when the information on tax forms does not correspond with Social Security records, according to the administration’s Website.

“The letter raises the issue that there may be a clerical error and the employee may not receive her social security benefits,” Whitman campaign adviser Rob Stutzman said in a conference call with reporters. “Ms. Whitman had no reason to doubt Ms. Diaz’s legal status as she had represented it to them.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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