September 29th, 2010
03:01 PM ET
12 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. yarrrr

    Gloria Allred tried to do the same thing to Arnold in 2003...

    September 29, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Diane P

    CNN loves the GOP, the race isn't neck & neck, are your ratings slumping, execs getting fired, if people wanted the GOP slant we go to the FOX site! Of course this story is true when Meg decided she wanted to buy California she fired her undocumented employees, this isn't surprising.

    September 29, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. V.Sheldon

    Whitman is as dirty as they come. I believe it.

    September 29, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Marko

    Yes, it is political. Dems had good teachers in the repubs. If true, then sad. If not, then sad again. Either way the lies go on and on and on.... 3rd Moderate Party needed quickly. Please, no tea party.

    September 29, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. ehwilson429

    Gloria Allred is a DEM party activist.

    she did this with RINO Schwarzenegger when he was running for GOV.
    she's a lawyer and a DEM party activist,

    September 29, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    I thought this might be relevant...until I saw Gloria Allred was involved.

    September 29, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Paul from Phoenix

    Gloria Allred = zero credibility

    September 29, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. tom l

    Ms. Allred has no shame. This absolutely ludicrous and reeks of a political stunt. What is she claiming? What does Allred have to do with this? IF she is illegal, WHY is she still in the United States?
    She worked for $23/hour. She worked there for 9 years. She was hired through an AGENCY. You work through an agency because they verify the validity of whether she is legal to work here or not. Who on earth would ask someone sent through the agency whether she was "legal"?? I can guarantee you that if she had asked that question, Allred would have sued her for discrimination for even asking such a question. Disgusting.

    September 29, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Republicans is smart in the head area

    During last night's debate, Meg mentioned a fine for employers who hire illegal immigrants. So how much is she going to fine herself I wonder?

    September 29, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Eric

    Wow, so this is their big October Surprise to derail Whitman? Pfffftttt...

    September 29, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Bertina

    Allegations can never be true if given by a political opponent. *rolls eyes*

    September 29, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. vic, Nashville TN

    Falsely filled out immigration forms

    Good excuse hire illegal any thing goes wrong blame them because they are helpless

    September 29, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    The story fails to mention (as did the "Rick'l List" reporter on tv) that Meg Whitman was sent several letters by the Social Security Administration which specifically required the Whitman's to inquire and respond the SSA regarding the false information provided by the housekeeper. The Whitman's never responded and threw the SSA papers in the trash several times.
    Just thought you should know that fact.

    September 29, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Me

    If the housekeeper was referred to Whitman from an agency then it's up to the agency to verify her residency, not Whitman. This is how big employers circumvent their responsibility in hiring. Wal-Mart is a big culprit of this. In the end, as long as Brwon wins.

    September 29, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. DollParts

    Aww, REALLY? Meg Whitman fired her illegal housekeeper right as she decided to run for Gov? no way, no freakin' way...

    Meg Whitman knows what she's _WILLING_ to do to become Gov of CA. She also knows what she's _willing_ to do once she's in there.

    CORRUPT and will RUIN what's left of California...

    I'll take Moonbeam Brown over this crook-in-training ANY DAY!

    September 29, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. jim

    Not much to this story. It just another dems supporter trying to dig up some trash to help Jerry Brown in his bid to become Governor, Gloria Allred has always been a bigtime supporter of dems.And CNN is willing to play the game !!!

    September 29, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. MikeB59

    Meg Whitman has a house? I thought she lived under a bridge, like other trolls.

    September 29, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. True Conservative

    Republicans messed up in California. Should have nominated the Tea Party candidate, instead of loser-RHINO Witman.

    September 29, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. Bill

    And so it begins. Waiting until now to play dirty politics from the Brown's campaign. Whitman has been in the running for office for a year now and this never surfaced until now? The comments by this former housekeeper sounds like a "prepared" statement written by the Brown campaign. The left will stop at nothing to retain power. Unfortunately, the immigrants of California, legal or not, are being used by the Democrats to their advantage. It's a shame to see this sort of things still going on. However, voters are smarter now and this sad, pathetic politic will back fire on the Democrats.

    September 29, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. LEAF

    6 Drugs are legal in mexico TO CARRY WITH YOU Meth, Cocaine, and Heroin being 3 of the 6.

    So how could mexico be having a WAR ON DRUGS?

    The Mexican Government (AKA) DRUG CARTEL

    September 29, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. LEAF


    September 29, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. LEAF

    6 Drugs are legal in mexico TO CARRY WITH YOU Meth, Cocaine, and Heroin being 3 of the 6.

    So how could mexico be having a WAR ON DRUGS?

    The Mexican Government (AKA) DRUG CARTEL

    RACIST RACIST total B S. You are either against or for MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS period.

    September 29, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Right Leaning Independent

    Allred is a sleaze bag in a dress! Look at the story. The woman was sent by an employment agency. They should have checked her out – not Whitman! When Whitman found out she was here illegally, she fired her 4 days later!!! What grounds does this woman or Allred believe they can stand on!!! I tell you the Dems have broken out of the asylum... Send this woman back to Mexico immediately and send Allred with her...

    September 29, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. doug

    Typical Democrats, they have never ran on issues, always hate, lies, attacks, and distortions.

    Is it any wonder that they account for at least 8 out of 10 murders, auto "accidents", theft, and frivilous lawsuits?

    September 29, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Steven

    It's amazing. She already won a primary. But this is the first time CNN remotely tried to look into Meg Whitman. Sure they report on her spending the most money on a campaign (fluff piece) but leave out how she's really buying her way into office. And they mention a heckler but ignore why he was heckling and focused on the bully of NJ Christie trying to quiet opposition (more fluff). But Where's Anderson Cooper keeping Whitman honest? Why does Rick Sanchez do a story on her because it involved illegal immigration?

    How about really looking into Whitman? To see how as a CEO of ebay she laid off Californian ebay employees. Outsourced their jobs overseas. Seems relevant considering she's running for governor in a state that's really hurting. Why not delve into how her greed as an ebay CEO raising fees and creating absurd policy after absurd policy pinched out small business ebay sellers? Running small businesses OUT OF BUSINESS. People, including Americans loosing their livelihood? Like the fisherman in the gulf, but in all 50 states all year round. Why not report on how she couldnt compete with China's version of ebay and just let them list for free while raising fees for sellers in the US & the rest of the world?? Or how she let big companies like GM sell cars on ebay for FREE while the little American people had to pay high fees to sell the same cars, or rather they paid to not sell their cars because a Meg Whitman allowed a big company to corner the market and pinched them out.

    Or how about after Whitman hand picked her successor John Donahoe as ebay CEO, that Meg Whitman immediately sold off her stock just before the value dropped to the low teens a few years ago? Or that her successor Donahoe shared her ideas on "disruptive innovation" that ruined peoples livelihood, and also allowed sellers to be easily defrauded, slandered, and abused with no recourse just a monthly bill for it. While allowing the scammers to get away with it. This is someone we need in our government?

    Or how about John McCain mentioning her as candidate for secretary of treasury if he won in '08? Citing how many "jobs" ebay created for Americans without acknowledging the fees and expenses outweigh the benefits of selling on ebay as a "job" all thanks to Whitman. Or how since McCain lost, Whitman had a plan B and jumped on this expensive campaign as CA governor so she can BUY her way into politics, and bring her "disruptive innovation" to an entire state who will suffer even more.

    September 29, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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