Revelations Wednesday that California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant as a maid (a multimillionaire in California with an undocumented housekeeper — shocking!) had us thinking:
Not all politicos have been derailed for hiring foreign domestics (Dianne Feinstein, for example), although some (notorious anti-illegal-immigrant Gov. Pete Wilson) have certainly been called out as hypocrites. Here's our look at undocumented help throughout modern political history:
Zoe Baird was called President Bill Clinton's “first blunder” by Time magazine after was revealed that the U.S. Attorney General nominee had hired illegals as a nanny and chauffeur. She withdrew herself from consideration.
Lani Guinier was a Yale classmate of Clinton's who was his choice to be Assistant Attorney General — that is until controversy about her views on “racial quotas” hit the papers. Also, she allegedly hired a domestic worker and failed to pay the person's taxes.
Kimba Wood also got caught up in Clinton's Nannygate. Another Attorney General nominee, she had hired a woman from Trinidad as a nanny in 1986 — before such employment was expressly outlawed. Still, the Clinton administration got cold feet and Wood withdrew her name from consideration.
Of course, not all allegations involving domestic derail a politician's program. In 1994 it was revealed that Sen. Dianne Feinstein hired an undocumented Guatemalan woman as a housekeeper in the 1980s.
In 1995 allegations that Gov. Pete Wilson had employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper — and allegedly failed to take taxes out of her pay — sparked controversy because of his role as the spiritual leader of the anti-immigrant, Prop. 187 movement. It didn't stopping him from winning a second term as governor.
In 2001 Linda Chavez stepped aside as President George W. Bush's nominee for Secretary of Labor after it was revealed that an illegal immigrant had lived in her home.
Bernard Kerik, New York's former police commissioner, was President George W. Bush's 2004 nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security … until it was revealed he had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny. He withdrew his nomination only to face more serious accusations that sent him to prison for four years.
So is the lesson here that undocumented workers are such a part of the fabric of American life that they should be decriminalized? Or that the federal government needs to do something about illegal immigration? No!
The lesson here is to hire a contractor for your illegal domestic help — a contractor that guarantees in writing that even though it's fairly clear your maid/nanny/chauffeur is undocumented, they've got fake papers on file somewhere.
That way you can run for office secure knowing that Gloria Allred isn't going to get all up in your dirty bathroom a week before absentee voting starts.
That way you can say, “Wasn't me.”