Meg Whitman, the Republican who spent $144 million of her own money running for governor of California, has agreed to pay her former housekeeper back wages of $5,500.
The housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, had charged that Whitman underpaid her and then fired her when she learned that she was undocumented. The housekeeper’s press conference, a month before election day, provided the final nail in the coffin of Whitman’s campaign. Latinos were outraged over the mistreatment of someone Whitman said was like a member of her family, and Republicans were outraged that Whitman merely fired her housekeeper and didn’t report her for immediate deportation.
On election day, Whitman won the votes of only 13 per cent of Latino voters. She lost to Jerry Brown, 54 – 41 per cent.
The back pay settlement came after a three-hour hearing before the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement on Wednesday.
The LA Times noted in an editorial that Whitman’s campaign expenditure of $144 million amounted to $36 for every vote she got, and that the $5,500 she owed her housekeeper amounted to “the price of a mere 152 more votes.”
Fox News called the settlement “chump change.” With the money she spent on her campaign, they calculated, Whitman could have settled with 25,455 housekeepers.
The lesson for candidates seems clear: the people who work for you should be paid what you owe them.
Actually that lesson applies not just to candidates, but to all employers.