(CNN) - The hot-button issue of illegal immigration erupted in the California race for governor Wednesday as a former housekeeper for GOP nominee Meg Whitman alleged that she had been "exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused" by the former eBay CEO.
Nicky Diaz – Santillan, who worked for Whitman for nine years, was fired in June 2009 "for what appeared to be political reasons involving Ms. Whitman's decision to run for governor," famed attorney Gloria Allred said in a news conference.
The Whitman campaign immediately shot back, claiming that Santillan had falsely filled out immigration forms when she first applied for employment as a housekeeper and was not, in fact, a legal resident of the United States.
See Nicky Diaz- Santillan's employment documents as released by Whitman's campaign here.
Allred claimed that back in August 2000, Santillan "was sent by an employment agency to interview with Meg Whitman for a job as a housekeeper. ... Nicky alleges that Ms. Whitman never asked if (she) was here legally," Allred said.
"The inconvenient truth of the hypocrisy of Meg Whitman as illustrated by her employment of an undocumented worker and her exploitation of her was going to be revealed, because Nicky wanted to be legalized," Allred said.
"Nicky was terminated in a sudden, cruel and heartless way," she added.
Allred said Santillan intends to file a claim for wages that had been unfairly denied.
"When I met with Meg Whitman on June 20, 2009, I asked her for assistance," Santillan said. "I explained to her why I came to the United States. I explained that I was married and our economic situation in Mexico was very bad. We had no job, no food, no place to live and for that reason we made the decision to come here."
"Ms. Whitman just laughed," Santillan said. Whitman, Santillan claimed, also blamed herself for failing to previously ask for any documentation.
Whitman, according to Santillan, indicated four days later that she couldn't help the former housekeeper.
"She said, 'I cannot help you and do not say anything to my children. I will tell them you already have a new job and that you want to go to school and from now on, you don't know me and I do not know you. You have never seen me and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?'"
Whitman has previously beat back allegations she was involved in a 2007 shoving altercation with an employee at eBay's California headquarters after the Silicon Valley chief felt unprepared for an upcoming media interview. The incident reportedly led to a $200,000 settlement.
Responding to the press conference, Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera said Allred is merely attempting to smear the California Republican.
"With the polls tied, it comes as no surprise that the morning after a successful debate for Meg that the sleaze machine of the political left is now focused on the politics of personal destruction. Gloria Allred is a shameful manipulator and the timing of today's news conference so close to the election should serve as a warning to Californians that they are witnessing dirty political smears at their worst," she said in a statement.
Rob Stutzman, a senior advisor to the campaign, said it was "curious" that Santillan would bring forward allegations against Whitman a mere 35 days before the election. It's even "more curious," he said, that the news conference featuring the former housekeeper was being orchestrated by Allred, who has a "clear relationship" with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown.
The allegations are part of a "post-debate smoke bomb" to try and obscure Brown's "bizarre behavior" after Tuesday night's debate against Whitman, Stutman claimed. It is part of the politics of "personal destruction," he said.
Whitman is also angry because the former housekeeper is a victim of manipulation by Allred, he asserted.
Whitman is currently in a neck-and-neck race with Brown.
A CNN check of Allred's political contributions shows she has donated extensively to Democratic candidates.
- CNN's Alan Duke and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report