Second debate sees more maid talk for Whitman, Brown

Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 4, 2010, 11:55am


FRESNO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - Much of Saturday's California gubernatorial debate remained focused on Republican Meg Whitman's employment of an illegal immigrant housekeeper.

Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown, the state's attorney general, met Saturday for their second televised debate at California State University, Fresno. The 60-minute forum was hosted by Spanish-language network Univision and targeted a Hispanic audience.

The debate's moderator asked the billionaire Whitman about revelations earlier in the week that she employed Nicky Diaz Santillan, whom she fired in 2009 after nine years of working for the former eBay CEO and her husband. Whitman has repeatedly denied knowing that Diaz Santillan was undocumented until shortly before she was let go.

Whitman accused Brown of being behind Diaz Santillian's recent allegations, and said he should be "ashamed."

"You and your surrogates put her deportation at risk. You put her out there. You should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions," she said.

Brown denied he was involved, noting Whitman's own call for employers to be held responsible for their hires.

He said she wasn't taking responsibility for her actions.

"Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet," the former governor.

Saturday's debate was filmed midday, with questions posed in Spanish and simultaneously translated for the candidates. It was aired later -- online and on Univision stations -- after Spanish voiceovers were added to the candidates' responses.

The forum also experienced a number of technical difficulties, according to media reports. Immediately after the exchange about the housekeeper, the translation system stopped working, and both candidates were taken off stage for half an hour and placed in separate holding areas.

While immigration issues dominated much of the debate, education, unemployment and the water shortage in the state's Central Valley also were discussed.

Whitman again emphasized her three priorities -- creating jobs, reducing government spending and fixing the state's public school system. Meanwhile, Brown again focused on his many years as a public servant.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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