Politics & Government

Whitman may have known housekeeper's illegal status in 2003

LOS ANGELES — Controversy over Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's hiring of an illegal immigrant housekeeper stretched into a second day Thursday as Whitman and her husband were confronted with new evidence that undercut their previous version of events.

By the end of the day, Whitman's campaign acknowledged it was possible that the couple had received a letter alerting them in 2003 that personal data submitted for the employee didn't match government records.

Whitman had vehemently denied receiving such a letter from the Social Security Administration in a news conference just minutes before the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, unveiled it Thursday at the offices of her attorney, Gloria Allred.

According to a copy released to the media, the letter is addressed to both Whitman and her husband, Griffith Harsh, and informs them, "We can't put these earnings on the employee's Social Security record until the name and Social Security number you reported agree with our records."

At the bottom of a form apparently included with the letter are the scribbled words, "Nicky please check this. Thanks."

Allred said Harsh had written that message, which she said proved at least that Whitman's husband knew of the federal government's concerns about Diaz Santillan's Social Security data.

"Nicky recognizes this as Dr. Harsh's writing, since he wrote her many notes," Allred said.

Harsh quickly issued a statement saying it was "possible" that the handwriting was his, though he did not remember receiving the letter. He said it did not necessarily mean it would have raised concerns that his housekeeper was an illegal immigrant, since the letter itself says it "makes no statement about your employee's immigration status."

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