California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R) was hit with allegations Wednesday that her former housekeeper worked for her illegally for almost a decade.
At a dramatic press conference, the former employee, Nicandra Diaz-Santillan, announced through her attorney, Gloria Allred, that she worked for Whitman's family illegally for nine years.
Allred told reporters assembled in her office that Whitman never asked about Diaz's legal status and received notice from the Social Security Administration in 2003 that the Social Security number provided by Diaz did not match her name, calling that "a clue that the employee may be undocumented," according to the Sacramento Bee.
Allred, who has been involved in several high-profile cases, called it a classic instance of "don't ask, don't tell."
The Whitman camp said Allred had "been a [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Jerry Brown donor since 1982." It subsequently released documents, including a Social Security card and California driver's license, provided by Diaz, which it says show the former eBay CEO was unaware that her then-housekeeper was unable to work in the country legally.
Diaz alleges she was fired in June 2009 after she approached Whitman and her husband for help gaining legal status.
"I told her I don't have papers to work here and need her help," the former housekeeper recounted to reporters.
She said Whitman's husband "yelled" at her. "I was crying for fear and intimidation. With a face full of tears, I told them, 'I believe in people. And I believe people deserve a chance.' I also told them I don't wish them any harm. I just wanted their help," Diaz said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She said Whitman walked her to the door and said, "I don't know what I can do, but let me see what my lawyer can do."
She said Whitman later left her a voice mail wherein she said, "I cannot help you. And don't say anything to my children. I will tell them you already have a new job ... and from now on you don't know me, and I don't know you. You have never seen me, and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?"
Diaz said she was "shocked."
"She was throwing me away like a piece of garbage," she said.
Diaz plans to file a complaint seeking back pay for extra hours she says she worked unpaid during her employment.
— Updated at 3:38 p.m.