Meg Whitman—former EBay CEO and current Republican candidate for Governor of California—was sued last week by her former maid, an undocumented immigrant named Nicky Diaz Santillan.
The controversy came back to haunt her at a tense debate over the weekend at California State University, Fresno. The debate was aimed at California's huge Latino constituency and was to air statewide on Spanish-language television.
When Whitman was asked about Santillian by the debat'es moderator, she lashed out at her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown and accused him of sacrificing the maid "on the altar of your political ambitions."
Brown retorted that Whitman must take responsibility for her mistakes. "Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet and say, 'Hey I made a mistake,'" Brown declared. "You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions. But you don't take accountability." The two candidates are neck-and-neck in the gubenatorial race.
Santillan, represented by famed celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, claimed during a press conference held today to announce the lawsuit that working for Whitman was a "nightmare." As reported on TMZ, Santillan worked for Whitman for 9 years, during which time she says Whitman "exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused" her.
Santillan also insisted that Whitman knew she was undocumented and even found out at one point that her social security number did not match her identity. She says that she discussed her inability to travel back to Mexico with Whitman and that there were a thousand things that should have clued her employer in, but that Whitman chose a "don't ask, don't tell" policy since she was getting cheap labor from Santillan, who was working for $23 and hour. Whitman's attitude changed once she decided to run for political office. Santillan says that Whitman treated her "like a piece of garbage" once she realized that employing an illegal immigrant could be used against her during the campaign.