September 29th, 2010
03:01 PM ET
13 years ago

Whitman campaign rocked by former housekeeper's 'abuse' allegations

(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

Filed under: 2010 • California • Meg Whitman
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Greg Hodges

    Thomas Jefferson wrote how all men are created equal; and then went back to his home complete with slaves. The sad fact is hypocracy and politics always go hand-in-hand.

    September 29, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. This is awesome news

    What a great news for California... The Repiblican know for their sleeze, fear monger and lied...Glad to see this happen to Whitman.. I don't care if was brown that stir this up..but the Repulican derserve it. Come on Democrat!!!!! !Got to play their game!!!

    September 29, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Cheney and Armey are a couple of Dicks

    It appears Meg is the problem, not the solution, to illegal immigration.

    September 29, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Cheney and Armey are a couple of Dicks

    When republicans get caught with their pants down (or skirts up), why do they always blame the person who caught them?

    September 29, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    HELL YES, LETS FOLLOW THIS RETREAD. MOONBEAM is just what CALI needs to sink right into the LIB ocean. Who needs checks and balances anyway. See how GREAT our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is running with the DIMRATS in power! LEMMINGS UNITE...WE HAVE ANOTHER LEADER!

    September 29, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Rick

    Whitless will hopefully lose.

    September 29, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    Professional politician Jerry Brown. With a better look at his playbook now, maybe he should instead be running for Mayor of Chicago!

    September 29, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. 228R

    Republicans..... Swift Boat doesnt feel so good when it whips back around and heads for you? Does it?

    September 29, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    tea gets old after just one day. GOBAMA GO

    September 29, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. SAY WHAT!!!

    Typical Tea Bagger or Republican – "Do as I say not as I do"

    September 29, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. 228R

    When did CNN turn hard panned conservative editorial? I guess it is because REAL working, moderate, majority of Americans are working hard at their jobs, while the tea party conservative nut jobs are whining about how they don't have one. Screaming that it is Obama's (African American) fault and not the fault of their inherent lack of personal character. Got to get those slumping ratings up CNN, eh?

    September 29, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. The Unsub

    its always something with these darn republicans!

    September 29, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. D. Bunker

    On the list of reasons Whitman is not fit to be governor, this one is way down on the list. Lets instead look at her support for outsourcing and why a billionaire is trying to buy a position that pays so little, relatively speaking. My guess is she wants to privatize the entire state and put its assets up for sale on ebay.

    September 29, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. willybtru

    Yes its an awful thing for everyone involved, and it is wrong what she did (not 2009) but just highering an illegal immigrant is bad. NOW on one hand its not specifically a yuppie GOP thing...If you remember correctly Barbara Boxer had the same problem in the late 80's or early 90's.

    September 29, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. WhittierLil

    HA!! uummm... lets see...last night she said "..we have to hold the employers of undocumented immigrants accountable'... uuummmmm... ACCOUNTABLE!! OUCH!!! Do it to it, Gloria!!! Expose her for who/what she really is!!!

    September 29, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    ehwison429- You don't know the half of what should have come out obout Arnie.
    Meg should be exposed if the allegations are true – is this politics! And if the Republicans had anything like this, they too would be pushing it in the press.
    Politics is no longer about issues- its about news coverage. without it there would be no Palin or Tea Party. And, wihtout Meg's war chest, the Democrats will need to pull out whatever they can to compete.
    As for critics of professional politicians- this is how Mr Brown chose to make a living. Why is Meg spending 120 milion dollars for a job that pays about 1% of that? There is an answer- ego. Will she have people to answer to? Definitly- the Ruplican party, the boards fo directors of the coprorations she will be givning her tax credits to, and the corporations that she intends to favor over the average Californian. Fro her – big business wont be special interest, it will be her only interest.Tax cuts do not create jobs- need does.

    September 29, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. X-Man

    Meg should be impressed by Allred's timing on this. She's a business women after all, right? Allred wanted as much publicity on this as possible so releasing this until after the debate makes a lot of since from a "marketing" standpoint. She there to represent her client's best interest, not Meg's.

    Meg is one of these power hungry controlling passive aggressive people who speak out of both sides of her mouth. We don't need another politico neophyte trying to run the most important state in the Union. We just got done with one in Arnold and we are worse than we were with Davis. Meg will continue to take California down the same black hole that Arnold started. Enough with these rich elitist business people. California is not a company and you can't run it as one. It's an issuing of governing, not "running a business" where the bottom line is all that matters.

    September 29, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. A True Centrist

    This woman was fired over a year ago and she's only coming out today...hmmm, I don't know the dynamics of the governor's race in California but this seems shady at best.

    By the way, I love the comments from people like Diane who apparantly think they were there when this happened...please, what a joke! Only those two people know what really happened...I will give both the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind until more information comes out.

    September 29, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. one voice

    Meg Whitman is totally out of touch with the average American, She hates anyone that isn't PURE WHITE and has NO CLUE in how to lead America forward from the doom of the FAILED POLICIES of the Bush/Cheney RESIME. PERIOD

    September 29, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Norah

    Loved everything that Steven mentioned, but he forgot to mention that the first jobs she outsourced OUT of California were jobs to begin running her campaign. Seriously, people in other states that she had past connections to were given graphics jobs and jobs to create commercials, etc. We are in THE state with the most talented people and in the mecca of the entertainment business. There are many out of work people that would have loved to work for her (work is work). Wouldn't that have been the most logical place to start to keep jobs IN California – at the beginning???? Seriously.

    September 29, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. betterdays

    "Nicky was terminated in a sudden, cruel and heartless way," all of which is entirely legal, unlike her immigration status.

    See what happens when you assume someone is playing by the rules? And why should a private citizen employing someone through an employment agency be REQUIRED to investigate someone's immigration status when law enforcement officials are FORBIFDDEN to do the same thing??

    As far as I can tell, an "undocumented" immigrant's primary value to the bleeding-heart is as a pawn (as in this instance) and as a (potential eventual) Democrat voter.

    September 29, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Larry

    Bottom-line this lady worked for Whittman for nine years (NINE FREAKING YEARS) and she now claims she did not know she was illegal until she decided to run for Gov. This just shows her character...THROW THE LESS FORTUNATE UNDER THE BUS!!!!! This is a person who campaigns on anti-immigration and yet she is guilty of hiring an illegal (FOR NINE YEARS). But hey, the maid better watch out...she may get slap by Whitty.

    September 29, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |

    DefinItion – Illegal,- forbidden by law or statue.
    Immigrate – a person who migrates to another country for permanet residence.
    What part of the above do you morons not understand. This woman was a crinimal and under the way she entered the country had no rights. The woman who hired her has no rightS and should be punished also. Two wrongs do not a right make. Until this country gets the strength to abvide by the constitution once again there will be no justice for illegals and should be plenty justice handed down upon the ones who hire them. You don't work you don't eat. Pretty soon they will quit coming when they can't get the gravy anymore. Free medicine, medical help. Free schooing and lunches. Free school supplies. Free welfare checks for the needy with forged social security numbers. Stealing from the people with those numbers. This is getting to be sickening. Then a no good President who says I shall grant full amnesty to these people so they can vote. What is to be done when you have politicians who are not christians nor can they follow the rules of the Constitution of the United States. THE PRESIDENT WE NOW HAVE STOOD ON VETERANS DAY AT FT. HOO WITH KEY OFFICERS OF THE ARMED FORCES ALONG WITH THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WHILE THEY ALL SALUTED AND HIS HANDS HOLDING HIS CROTCH AGAIN THE USUAL WAY OF THE MORONS WHO DANCE AROUND POTS. THIS IS WHAT THIS GREAT CHRISTIAN NATION HAS FALLEN TO. WITYH NO CHANGE IT WILL NOT BE THE ONLY DISTANCE WE COULD FALL. HEAVEN HELP US FOR WE HAVE A COUNTRY FULL OF NON-BELIEVERS.

    September 29, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. Marie MD

    And this woman was an illegal. You can't tell me that this woman who has spent half her fortune (okay, only 1/4) to buy votes didn't know that her housekeeper was illegal.
    If the housekeeper is illegal she might have been afraid to come forward to tell on this witch. Once again the rethugs don't play fair and lie and do exactly what they tell the rest of us not to do because they are so high above the middle class and the poor.
    I hope she loses. She and fiorina are both loers.

    September 29, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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