Quotes from Whitman, Brown on housekeeper flap

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Saturday, October 2, 2010; 6:03 PM

-- Much of Saturday's gubernatorial debate between Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown centered on this week's controversy over Whitman's acknowledgment that she had an illegal immigrant housekeeper on the payroll for nine years and, according to her, didn't know it. She said she fired the housekeeper in June 2009 immediately after being told she was in the country illegally.

The attorney for the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, produced a 2003 letter from the Social Security Administration mailed to the Whitman household that said the Social Security number she provided did not match the name on file. At the bottom of the letter was a handwritten note that appeared to be from Whitman's husband to Diaz, suggesting at least he saw the letter.

Here are some of their comments on the matter:


- "Here's the truth, here's the real story of what happened. We hired Nicky because she had all the appropriate documents. We went through a hiring agency, and then in June of 2009 she came to me to tell me that she was here illegally and did not have the appropriate documents. I made the hardest decision I have almost made in my life, which was to let her go. And my lawyer said to me there is not much you can do for Nicky; she forged documents, she um, was here illegally."

-"The real tragedy here is Nicky. After Nov. 2, no one's going to be watching out for Nicky Diaz. And Jerry, you know you should be ashamed, you and your surrogates ... put her deportation at risk. You put it out there and you should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions."

- "He's just dead wrong. I was accountable for hiring someone I believed to be a documented worker. She became a part of our family and when it turned out she came to me and was undocumented, I did what the law requires and I had to let it go. It broke my heart because Nicky had become a part of our family, but it was the right thing to do."

- "What Jerry Brown is not accountable for is the role that he has played in this whole political circus. He does not acknowledge that uh, he's very close to Gloria Allred, he does not acknowledge that his campaign was moving this around two weeks ago, he does not acknowledge that the Service Employees International Union - SEIU - was all poised and ready to go with an ad. ... (Nicky) is in deep trouble now because she's been brought forward as forging documents, and you know, I don't know what is going to happen to Nicky and I worry about her tremendously."


- "This is incredible, when you try to evade responsibility. You're going around this state saying employers must be accountable for hiring unlawful people, there ought to be raids on businesses, there's no path to citizenship, no path, and young Latinos who may have lived here their whole lives and got A's in high school should be barred from going to Fresno State."

- "You're the one who falsely defamed this woman by saying she stole your mail, and it came out it's not true and you had information, or at least you had enough to know there's something wrong here. So you're the one who says 'Hey everyone's got to be accountable. This is a terrible thing: We have all these millions of (illegal) people, but you don't want a path to citizenship."

- "You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions, but you don't take accountability and you can't be a leader unless you're willing to stand on your own two feet and say, 'Yep, I made a mistake.'"

- "It's not just about cost-benefit, about tax breaks, about competition, we're also human beings. When someone works with you, you do have familial bonds and ties and I think if that story is to be believed, I think Meg flunked the most fundamental test of all, and that is to treat people with respect and decency."


Associated Press Writers Garance Burke, Juliet Williams and Samantha Young contributed to this report.

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