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10 things about Meg Whitman and illegal housekeeper scandal

October 2nd, 2010 2 comments

I came in US in 2002 and I am an American citizen since 2007. I’ve watched American politics for many years but I have NEVER been so disgusted by the circus from the political arena like I am right now seeing the California gubernatorial race.

By now most of the Californians, legal or not in USA, are somehow familiar with the controversy surrounding Meg Whitman, the gubernatorial Republican candidate, which allegedly kept employed an illegal immigrant for nine years as her housekeeper.

The allegations were made public on Sept. 29 by attorney Gloria Allred who said that her client, Nicky Diaz, was abused and exploited by Whitman for nine years (2000-2009).

Sept 29 - Gloria Allred and Nicky Diaz at a press conference in Los Angeles. (source: NY Daily News)

Allred also said that she has a letter from the Social Security Administration sent in 2003 to Whitman proving the family was notified that Nicky was in the US illegally, but they did not do anything about it.

Furthermore, Allred said that in June 2009 Nicky went to Whitman and told her that she is illegally in US and as a result she was fired. Allred alleged that Nicky was fired because Whitman was running for a public office.

Wednesday, when the story broke, based on the Allred’s allegations, the main headline in the media was: Whitman knowingly hired an illegal alien. Few articles here: Housekeeper claims Whitman was notified of status – AP, Atty: Whitman knew housekeeper was in US illegally – San Diego Union Tribune.

Meg Whitman, the gubernatorial Republican candidate (source: Examiner.com)

When I heard the story for the first time – everybody on the radio was talking about it – I was outraged. And most of the people that I know were the same.

This was a big issue because Whitman said during campaign that the employers hiring illegal immigrants should be fined.

Few hours later, Whitman denied that she knew prior to June 2009 that Nicky was illegally in the US. Referring to a letter received from the Social Security Administration about Nicky’s legal status, Whitman said: “We never received that letter or that notification.”

Thursday, Sept. 30, Allred provided a letter to the public, showing that in 2003 Whitman family received a notification from Social Security Administration that Nicky’s name was not matching the Social Security Number they had in file.

Everybody got now even more outraged. “See, Whitman lied, there is the letter,” many people said. “She is a hypocrite,” said others.

I was curious about the subject, so I started following it pretty close while more and more facts were revealed.

The problem was that the more Allred talked publicly the more the facts were not matching or making sense.

Here are ten thoughts that I have about this case.

I am writing this because the effects of this scandal will not end with the elections from Nov. 2, but many innocent and honest people will suffer, which I don’t think it is fare for them.

1. Allred exposed her client as being illegal in US, then she denied

Wednesday Allred said that Whitman hired Nicky knowing that she is illegal. With this statement Allred herself admitted that Nicky was illegally in US.

Thursday though, when Allred was interviewed on couple radio talk shows and was asked precisely if her client was illegally in US, she avoided giving an answer.

2. Did Whitman know that Nicky was illegally in US?

According to Allred yes, because Whitman was notified in 2003 by Social Security Administration that Nicky was illegal and she produced the letter.

The problem is that the letter does not say that Nicky was illegal, but that Social Security Administration can not post the earnings to her SS number.

“We are writing to you about your Wage and Tax Statements (W-2) for the employee shown below. Please complete the information on the reverse and return it to us promptly. We can’t post these earnings on the employee’s Social Security record until the name and Social Security number you reported agree with our records,” it is mentioned in the first paragraph of the letter.

Nothing is mentioned about Nicky’s legal status in US. The letter does not stop here.

“This letter does not imply that you or your employee intentionally provided incorrect information about the employee’s name or SSN. It is not a basis, in and of itself, for you to take any […] action against the employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing or discriminating against the individual. Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify […] action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences. Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.

The same information is translated in Spanish on the letter.

As we can see, not only that the letter does not say the Nicky is illegally in US, but even tells Whitman not to retaliate against her in any way.

So, what Allred said about that letter is not true: Whitman was not notified about Nicky’s legal status in US.

Did then Whitman lie when she said that she did not receive a letter from SSA about Nicky’s legal status?

3. Did Whitman fire Nicky because she ran for office?

Allred said yes.

But if we look chronologically, something does not make sense. Whitman started running for office in February 2009. If Nicky’s legal status was a threat for Whitman’s candidacy, why did she fire her five months later?

Usually when you run for public office, all the consultants are asking you about any “skeletons in the closet.”

If Whitman would have known that Nicky is illegal she would have fired her before the February announcement not after.

4. Was Nicky abused by Whitman?

Allred said yes.

I am not going to speculate if she was or not, because I don’t know.

But, according to the records, Nicky was paid by Whitman $23/hour for a part-time job.

How many of you work a full-time job for $23/hour? Is this a job that an American won’t do?

5. If Whitman is a liar, what is Nicky then?

Allred said that Whitman is a liar because she did not admit receiving a letter from Social Security Administration.

I am making an abstraction here so let’s consider that Whitman is a liar, even if Wednesday the headline was about a letter from SSA talking about Nicky’s legal status not her earning wages.

So, if Whitman is a liar, what is Nicky then? She told Whitman for nine years that she is legally in US. Furthermore, she used somebody else’s Social Security number to be hired, which is identity theft. Maybe she even affected that person’s credit score.

Which action is worse?

6. Who violated the trust?

Allred said that Whitman violated Nicky’s trust by firing her because she is illegal.

Now I have to look at the side of the coin. What about Whitman? Wasn’t her trust violated by keeping in her house somebody for nine years that continuously lied to her?

7. Nicky lied even to her recruiting company.

When Whitman was looking for a housekeeper, she used a recruiting company and specifically mentioned that she wants a person that is here legally.

When she completed the forms, Nicky lied in her application to the recruiting company.

“As already reported, Nicky Diaz did fill out our standard candidate questionnaire. In that questionnaire, Nicky indicated that she was legally able to work in the United States,” said Carrie Hillen, the co-owner of the recruiting company.

“Further, Nicky provided us and our client with the documents that our client would need to complete the I-9 form as was their legal obligation as an employer.”

The Social Security number used by Nicky was not hers.

8. Will this story affect the outcome of the election?

I think it will, but not the way some wanted.

If initially the outrage was towards Whitman, now it seems that more and more undecided voters are supporting her.

9. This story will affect the jobs of millions of honest workers.

If Allred and Nicky were really successful in something that would be putting the jobs of millions of innocent people in jeopardy.

From this point forward, how many American families are going to trust their housekeepers? How many will loose their jobs because the families will do background checks to make sure these workers are legally in US?

10. This story will have a nationwide effect.

To present a person that stole somebody else’s identity and lied for nine years to her employer as a victim it will just not go unnoticed by the American people.

A reality ignored by many politicians for years, like people working on somebody else’s Social Security number, was now exposed nation wide and the American people will ask their representatives to take action.

At the end, regardless of who is going to lose the election for the Governor of California as a result of this story, the one that will be affected the most are the immigrants that came here to work and help their families.