Gloria Allred Says Letter Is Proof Meg Whitman Knew Housekeeper Was Illegal

Meg Whitman didn't think it was 'right thing' to turn in her illegal housekeeper

September 29, 2010, 3:16 PM

Sept. 30, 2010 -- Lawyer Gloria Allred released a letter today that she claims proves California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant as her housekeeper.

The letter was sent from the Social Security Administration to Whitman and her husband Griffith Harsh on April 22, 2003. It advises the couple that the Social Security number of their housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, did not match their files.

The back of the letter includes a handwritten note, which Allred said was written by Harsh, that reads: "Nicky, please check this. Thanks."

Allred said that neither Whitman nor her husband followed up with Diaz about the letter and instead allowed her to continue working for the family for six more years.

Whitman has denied that she or her husband ever received a letter from the Social Security Administration alerting them to any discripancy in Diaz's status.

Griffith Harsh issued a statement today conceding he might have seen the letter, but denied it was a red flag concerning Diaz's legal status.

"While I honestly do not recall receiving this letter as it was sent to me seven years ago, I can say it is possible that I would've scratched a follow up note on a letter like this, which is a request for information to make certain Nikki received her Social Security benefits and W-2 tax refund for withheld wages," Harsh said.

"The essential fact remains the same," Harsh continued. "Neither Meg nor I believed there was a problem with Nicky's legal status and I certainly don't recall ever discussing it with my wife, nor did I ever show her any letter about it."

Allred alleged that the couple did not take any action "because they wanted to employ an undocumented worker because she was easier to exploit." She called Whitman a "liar and hypocrite" for saying that she did know about Diaz's undocumented status until the housekeeper came to the couple in June 2009 to confess and ask them for help with her immigration issue.

At her own news conference earlier today, Whitman denied that she ever received the letter and said she did not report her long-time housekeeper to immigration officials when she learned he truth because "I didn't think it was the right thing."

The former CEO of eBay and current Republican gubernatorial hopeful said did not break the law by keeping silent.

"I comported with the law and the law does not require employers to turn people in," she said.

Whitman, who appeared alongside her husband, said the letter in question never reached her desk and may have been intercepted by Diaz. "If there is a letter out there I don't know how they got it," she said. "It's not in our house."

The copy of the letter provided by Allred instructed Whitman and Harsh to look into the problem with Diaz's Social Security number and return forms with the requested information "promptly."

Meg Whitman Blames Jerry Brown for 'Smear'

Diaz also alleged, through Allred, that the Whitman family received other subsequent letters that she saw "in the trash." Allred said that she would be "happy to come back and present further evidence" that the handwriting on the letter was Harsh's handwriting.

Whitman blamed the ontroversy on her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown.

"Frankly I think Jerry Brown should be ashamed of what his allies have tried to do here," Whitman said. "This is a baseless smear attack and he should be ashamed of himself."

She portrayed Diaz, who she said was a "great employee and an extended member of our family," as a victim of manipulation by Allred.

"I think Nicky had a gun to her head," Whitman said and called Allred "a very sophisticated attorney who has done this for a living over 20 years."

Allred declined to provide specifics about how she came into contact with Diaz, saying only that another lawyer had referred the former Whitman family housekeeper to her law office. As for her connections to Brown, Allred said that she had no contact with anyone on the state attorney general's campaign and had not seen or spoken to Brown recently.

The Whitman campaign said that Allred made donations to Brown in 1982 and 2006 as and highlighted Allred's ties to the Democratic Party.

Brown, who is locked in a tight race with his well-funded GOP opponent, issued his own statement on the matter Wednesday night. "Once again, Meg Whitman has shown that she thinks the rules don't apply to her," he said. "From the start, Meg Whitman has failed to tell Californians the truth."

At a news conference on Wednesday a tearful Diaz told reporters that Whitman fired her after nine years spent cleaning the couple's 3,700-square-foot home in an upscale Northern California suburb and shuttling their children to and from school and appointments.

"From now on you don't know me and I don't know you," Diaz said Whitman told her in the summer of 2009 after asking for legal help sorting out her immigration problems. "I was shocked and hurt that Ms. Whitman would treat me this way after nine years. I realized at that moment that she didn't appreciate my work. I felt like she was throwing me away like a piece of garbage."

Meg Whitman Says Housekeeper Lied to Her About Her Legal Status

In her initial statement on the matter when the controversy began brewing on Wednesday Whitman said, "Nicky had falsified the hiring documents and personal information she provided to the employment agency that brought her to us in 2000." The statement continued, "Nicky told me that she was admitting her deception now because she was aware that her lie might come out during the campaign."

Whitman's campaign provided an employment questionnaire Diaz filled out in 2000 in which she stated that she could legally accept work in the United States, as well as copies of immigration and W-4 forms, a California driver's license and a Social Security card all in Diaz's name.

Allred said that Whitman initially hired Diaz to work 15 hours per week for $23 an hour, but that over time the family asked Diaz to perform additional duties without paying her for extra time or providing reimbursement for mileage. On Thursday Whitman also denied that charge, saying that Diaz was paid for all the hours she worked and then some.

At Thursday's news conference Whitman attempted to pivot from the housekeeper controversy to immigration issues, saying that the entire episode pointed to the need for an "E-Verify system and a temporary guest worker program so that good people like Nicky can work in this country legally."

But with about a month to go before voters go to the polls, Whitman emphasized her that the allegations of Allred and Diaz were "completely untrue."

"They lack any merit whatsoever," she said. "This is truly a political smear on me on my family and based on lies and is designed to divert attention from the issues that really matter."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events