Politics & Government

Gloria Allred brings media savvy to Whitman's housekeeper issue

She was the woman who challenged the all-male membership rules of the Beverly Hills Friars Club by striding into a steam room full of naked men, holding a tape measure and singing Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?"

She successfully sued Saks Fifth Avenue for charging women more for alterations than men. She took on the Boy Scouts of America for excluding an 11-year-old girl.

And now Gloria Allred has inserted herself into the spotlight again, this time orchestrating an attack on Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that has sparked accusations that she is doing the dirty work of Whitman's Democratic rival.

While Jerry Brown's campaign has denied involvement in the celebrity attorney's latest production, Allred is a Democratic Party partisan.

She was a delegate for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She has donated to candidates, including Brown, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

In 2003, during California's recall campaign, Allred represented a Hollywood stuntwoman who charged that she was groped by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger back in his acting days. The case was later dropped.

In putting on news conferences this week featuring the illegal immigrant who for years worked as Whitman's housekeeper, attorney Allred demonstrated she remains a master at creating a media event.

"There are two narratives about her," said Martin Kaplan, a University of Southern California professor of media, entertainment and society. "One is that she is a champion for wronged and vulnerable women, a kind of feminist Spider-Man. The other is that she is a genius at getting attention and building her brand.

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