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Report: Nurses union pushed Whitman's illegal immigrant housekeeper into spotlight

November 23, 2010 | 12:03 pm

Ever since Nicandra Diaz Santillan, the illegal immigrant who was GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s former maid, emerged during the 2010 election, insiders wondered how the woman came to light at the side of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.

Whitman frequently accused Democratic rival Jerry Brown or his allies in organized labor of being behind her former housekeeper’s emergence.

Turns out the candidate appears to be right, at least in part. According to an account published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday, the California Nurses Assn. helped Diaz get in touch with Allred. The nurses union had been a thorn in Whitman’s side throughout the campaign, protesting at events and dressing up an actress as “Queen Meg.”

Diaz’s emergence was a damning moment in her campaign. Whitman spent a week defending herself, wrongly accused the woman of stealing her mail in the process and ultimately paid her $5,500 in unpaid wages.

The incident was believed to harm her standing among Latino voters and moderate women who Whitman had been wooing, many of whom appeared to question her refusal to help a woman who worked in her household for nearly a decade. Conservatives also questioned why she didn’t report Diaz to immigration authorities.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles