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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, October 1, 2010

CA: Whitman and the Housekeeper

Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred held a Wednesday press conference with Meg Whitman's former housekeeper, an illegal alien. The housekeeper said that Whitman knew of her status all along and abruptly sacked her when she decided to run for governor. Whitman said that she did not know until the housekeeper revealed it last year. The campaign quickly produced the housekeeper's employment documents, which had falsely claimed legal status. Whitman denied that she had received any government correspondence questioning the housekeeper's social security number. But the next day, Allred produced such a letter from 2003, with a handwritten note from Whitman's husband asking the housekeeper to look into the matter. Whitman has offered to take a lie detector test.

The episode points out the problem of political neophytes running for high office. People holding office, running for office, or even thinking about office are usually pretty careful about these things. Civilians are not, and in 2003, Whitman and her husband were civilians. It is entirely plausible that her husband thought that the letter was just a response to a clerical error rather than a huge red flag about immigration status. Rich doctors are not necessarily attentive to these matters. But as a candidate, Whitman and her husband have to live with the choices they made before she entered politics.

But even if Whitman is an innocent smear victim, one has to wonder why she didn't go public with it after she learned of Diaz Santillan's immigration status last year to avoid later problems.

After all, allegations about hiring illegal immigrants are an old story in California politics. At the least, then, it was a huge tactical error by Whitman's multimillion- dollar campaign staff, and it could be her undoing.