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Lawyer Says Whitman’s Husband Saw Ex-Maid’s Letter

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(Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman held a press conference Thursday reiterating that she never saw a 2003 letter from the government suggesting her housekeeper was an illegal immigrant — and said the maid was responsible for alerting her to letters in the mail.

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Whitman communications manager Tucker Bounds told The Associated Press that the housekeeper was in charge of going through the mail coming to the home and that she never passed along any letter to the former eBay CEO.

Meanwhile, attorney Gloria Allred held another press conference Thursday regarding Whitman’s former housekeeper.

Allred presented a 2003 letter to Whitman from the Social Security Administration office. The letter reportedly advised the former eBay chief that Nicky Diaz Santillan’s social security number did not match her name.

The latest round of accusations comes a day after Santillan claimed she was “emotionally and financially abused” during the nine years she worked for Whitman.

Allred said Wednesday that Whitman caused Santillan “to feel exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused.”

“The relationship was terminated last year by Ms. Whitman for what appeared to be political reasons involving Ms. Whitman’s decision to run for governor,” Allred said.

Tom Hiltachk, Whitman’s attorney, denied the allegation.

“This person was initially hired by Meg Whitman in November 2000,” Hiltachk said in remarks reported on the Los Angeles Times Web site. “She filled out standard (Internal Revenue Service) forms and Department of Justice forms and presented her Social Security card and California driver’s license. She filled out immigration forms that stated under penalty of perjury that she was a lawful resident.”

Hiltachk said Santillan was fired when she admitted that she was not a legal resident in 2009.

Whitman’s husband, Dr. Griff Harsh released the following statement:

“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.

Since we believed her to be legal, I would have had no reason to suspect that she would not have filled it in and done what was needed to secure her benefits.

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It is important to note what this letter actually says: ‘this letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.’

The essential fact remains the same, 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.

The facts of this matter are very clear: Ms. Diaz broke the law and lied to us and to the employment agency. When she confessed her deception to us last year, we ended her employment immediately.

Meg and I played by the rules and followed the law. Ms. Diaz did not. If as she claims she received this letter and note of inquiry from me, she never answered my request to look into this. Instead, she choose to continue her deception. This entire matter is a sad one and its timing is clearly the result of a calculated and cynical political smear by Meg’s opponents.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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