Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meg vs. the Attention-Hungry Ambulance Chaser...

How do you handle a problem like Nicandra?

Sure, it's a cheap play on the old "Sound of Music" number, but things could have been much worse for Meg Whitman today when legal beagle/(insert derogatory adjectives here) Gloria Allred trotted out Whitman's former housekeeper...who just happens to be an illegal alien.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Flanked by attorney Gloria Allred, former Whitman employee Nicandra Diaz made the accusations at a tearful Los Angeles press conference Wednesday. Diaz said she asked Whitman for help with her immigration status in 2009 and Whitman refused. 'I felt like she was throwing me away like a piece of garbage,' Diaz said."

Gloria Allred: she never met a camera she didn't like...(photo:

Ben Smith at Politico observes, "Allred said her client 'alleges that Ms. Whitman was aware of her status.' She provided no direct evidence for that but suggested Whitman should have known because of the nanny's references to her inability to travel outside the country and by alleged letters from the Social Security Administration reporting that her social security number did not match her name. Her employment and firing were a 'nightmare' said Allred, who cast the case in the most politically inflammatory terms possible, and said her client had been 'exploited, disrespected, humiliated, and emotionally and financially abused' and that she was filing a claim in state court for damages included unreimbursed mileage on the nanny's car. Allred then coached the nanny through a tearful press conference in which she recounted an argument between Whitman and her husband when they learned that she was in the country illegally, in which -- she claimed -- Whitman said the family was 'at fault' because they 'never asked' if she was in the country legally. 'I hope no one else has to suffer the way that I did,' she said. 'She treated me as if I was not a human being.'"

Below is video from an impromptu Q&A Whitman had following an appearance at Cisco today. (h/t: Shaky Hand Productions/SF Gate). The former eBay CEO does a credible - and very humane - job of explaining what happened.

From Politico: "Whitman said in a statement that she's 'worried' about Diaz and that she is being 'manipulated' by Allred. 'Nicky told me that she was admitting her deception now because she was aware that her lie might come out during the campaign. Nicky said she was concerned about hurting my family and me,' Whitman said. 'As required by law, once we learned she was an illegal worker, I immediately terminated Nicky’s employment. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I considered Nicky a friend and a part of our extended family.'"

The GOP/Whitman mailer on illegal immigration: Dems were hoping to hit an artery today...

Considering Whitman's quick, clear and strong denial of wrongdoing, it doesn't seem that this episode is likely to cut into her efforts. If anything - if what she asserts is true - it could even show that she "walks the walk." As Whitman and her team noted, the timing of Allred's allegations were suspicious. Any bets on who Allred works for? Who she's voting for?

Back to the original question: How do you handle a problem like Nicandra? Exactly the way Meg Whitman did today...

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