Commentary: Whitman's campaign hit hard by undocumented housekeeper

The Sacramento BeeOctober 1, 2010 

With Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman running neck and neck for governor, political junkies were waiting for an "X-factor" — an unplanned or unexpected event that would alter campaign dynamics.

Maybe this is it.

Gloria Allred, a Los Angeles attorney and incorrigible publicity hound, dropped a stink bomb this week on Whitman: A former housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant claims that the candidate and her husband knew it and treated her shabbily.

Whitman immediately went into Defcon 1 mode. She released the false documents that housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santillan submitted when beginning work in her Atherton home and denied Allred's allegation.

Whitman said she fired Diaz Santillan in June 2009 when the housekeeper confessed her illegal status.

And Thursday, with husband Griff Harsh by her side, she charged, "Gloria Allred and the Brown campaign are doing a massive smear campaign on me and my family."

Minutes later, however, Allred struck back, releasing a 2003 letter to Whitman and Harsh from the Social Security Administration, saying that Diaz Santillan's Social Security number didn't match its records.

The letter has a handwritten note — from Harsh, Allred said — saying, "Nicky please check this. Thanks."

Allred said that proves "Meg Whitman is exposed as a liar and a hypocrite." Whitman denied it and said Diaz Santillan routinely collected the family's mail and could have intercepted the letter.

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