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Los Angeles - No matter where you turn in California, everyone seems to be talking about the race for Governor. Campaign ads fill the airwaves on nearly every radio and television station around the state. But as voters prepare to head to the polls in four weeks time, Republican nominee Meg Whitman finds herself fighting some serious allegations, and political analysts wonder if it's enough to unravel her whole campaign.
This week, attorney Gloria Allred dropped a bombshell when she alleged that Whitman employed an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper. Allred's client, Nicky Diaz Santillan, worked for Whitman over a nine year span of time. In 2003, Allred says the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent a letter to Whitman stating there was a discrepancy with Santillan's employment records. The letter was addressed to Meg Whitman and her husband, but it doesn't mention anything about employing an undocumented worker. Instead, the letter says Nicky Diaz Santillan's social security number didn't match the SSA's database. What's more? Allred claims Meg Whitman's husband, Dr. Griffith Harsh, scribbled a note on that letter for Santillan to "check it out" but never followed up with her and kept her employed.
Whitman denies all of the allegations and now her campaign is scrambling to do some serious damage control, considering the Republican candidate has campaigned on securing the border and addressing California's illegal immigration problem. Whitman says she hired Nicky Diaz Santillan through the Town and Country Resources household staffing company. Whitman says that agency sent her a copy of Santillan's ID card, Social Security card and I-9 tax form which she assumed were all legitimate. The GOP candidate also says her husband didn't recall getting a letter from the SSA back in 2003. Whitman asserts the letter may have been intercepted by her housekeeper since she was responsible for getting the mail.
In a news conference yesterday Whitman told reporters "I have no other explanation for it because we never saw the letter, Nicky did bring in our mail and sort our mail. If she had gotten a letter two weeks before alerting her to a problem and saying we're going to alert your employer, she might have been on the lookout for that letter. I mean it pains me to say that because gosh, that's not the Nicky I knew."
Whitman, the former CEO of EBay, says she and her husband didn't learn about their housekeeper's immigration status until Santillan herself notified them in 2009 that she was in the country illegally, before Whitman announced her bid for governor. Whitman says she was shocked to learn the news, considering Santillan had practically been a part of the family for nearly a decade, but maintains she was fired once the truth came to light. Whitman has said she'd be happy to take a polygraph test to prove she is telling the truth about never receiving the letter and knowingly employing an illegal immigrant. Interestingly, when Gloria Allred was asked the same question about her client's willingness to take a lie detector test, the high profile attorney said it wasn't necessary because the letter was all the proof they needed.
Many can't help but wonder what this she-said, she-said business means for Meg Whitman's expensive run for office. Could this allegation literally cost her the campaign and alienate both Latino and conservative voters? Only time will tell. So far, she has done pretty well in the polls. The latest field poll puts her and Democratic challenger Jerry Brown in a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average only puts Brown ahead by a few points. Whitman has suggested this false allegation is merely the Brown camp's attempt to smear her reputation during the final stretch of this race, with only a month to go until the election. The multi-millionaire has already broken national records by contributing roughly 119 million dollars of her own money to the campaign.
What do you think? Does this pass the smell test?