A former housekeeper for Meg Whitman said the Republican candidate for California governor knew the worker was in the U.S. illegally for six years and fired her only after deciding to run for office. Whitman denied the allegations.
Nicky Diaz, appearing with her attorney, Gloria Allred, made the claim during a press conference in Los Angeles today. Allred said Whitman was told by the Social Security Administration in 2003 that the identification number provided by Diaz was inaccurate and that Whitman ignored the warning.
Whitman’s campaign said she didn’t know Diaz was an undocumented immigrant until the housekeeper admitted to falsifying federal immigration documents when she was hired nine years earlier. Whitman says she fired Diaz in June 2009 after the admission.
Whitman, the 54-year-old former chief executive officer of EBay Inc., is running against California’s 72-year-old attorney general and former governor, Democrat Jerry Brown. The allegations came hours after Whitman and Brown sparred in their first face-to-face debate, where the issue of illegal immigration was one of the key topics.
“I believe Nicky is being manipulated by Gloria Allred for political and financial purposes during the last few weeks of a hotly contested election,” Whitman said in a statement. “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.”
In the debate last night, Whitman said employers who hire illegal immigrants should be held accountable. Brown said he supports a federal path toward legalization of undocumented immigrants.
A Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll released Sept. 26 showed Brown with a 49-to-44 percent lead over Whitman. Her campaign dismissed the poll, saying its sample of voters under-represented Republicans. A Field Poll released Sept. 23 showed they were tied at 41 percent.
Allred, who donated $150 to Brown in 2006 when he ran for attorney general, represented a Hollywood stuntwoman who during the 2003 governor’s race alleged sexual harassment by Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has also represented clients in cases involving O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods and former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd.