Attacked on both sides, Whitman offers to take polygraph

Liz Goodwin

California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman told reporters at a news conference Thursday that she would take a lie detector test to prove she was "stunned" when she found out that her housekeeper was an illegal immigrant in 2009, CNN reports.

The former housekeeper's lawyer, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, produced a copy of a letter from the Social Security Administration informing Whitman in 2003 that her employee's Social Security number did not match her name, the Los Angeles Times reports. A note scrawled on the letter, asking the housekeeper to "check up" on the matter, was written by Whitman's husband, Allred says.

Whitman says she never saw the letter, and told reporters that the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, sorted her mail and could have taken it.

Diaz Santillan tearfully announced in a Wednesday news conference that Whitman fired her after nine years when Diaz Santillan asked for help gaining legal status. Diaz Santillan alleges that Whitman knew she had no papers because of such letters from the Social Security Administration. Whitman insists that she never saw those letters and that she believed Diaz Santillan was legal because the housekeeper provided a driver's license and Social Security number when she was hired.

An anti-illegal-immigration group has called for Whitman to be arrested, while the Service Employees International Union, which supports immigration reform, is releasing an attack ad accusing Whitman of hypocrisy.

"Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years," says the ad, according to the Associated Press.

Polls show Whitman deadlocked with her Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Jerry Brown, despite her aggressive Spanish-language outreach ads to the Latino community.

Latino activists and political analysts say the national Republican Party is alienating must-get Latino voters and putting more centrist Republican candidates in Western states in a tough spot.