At Tuesday night's gubernatorial candidates debate, Republican Meg Whitman had this to say about political insiders:
"You know what drives me crazy about career politicians? They refuse to accept accountability."
That statement echoed today as Whitman revealed, in a pre-emptory move that came hours before the situation was about to be publicly disclosed, that she had employed an undocumented housekeeper and nanny for nine years before dismissing her last June.
Whitman said she fired Nicki Diaz after her longtime housekeeper -- whom she described as almost "a member of our extended family" -- in June 2009 after Diaz revealed that she was in the country illegally. So, by her own admission, Whitman knew the facts of this situation almost from the moment she declared her candidacy for governor more than a year ago.
It was no secret that the issue of public figures employing undocumented workers is newsworthy and of public interest (remember Zoe Baird, President Clinton's ill-fated first nominee for attorney general?). Whitman could have gone public with the story, and even used it as an example of why a foolproof system for employers to verify the residency status of workers is so important. But she chose instead to keep it under wraps, but, judging from the documentation and comprehensive response of her campaign team this morning, prepared herself for the contingency that news of the situation might become public.
The subject of illegal immigration, of course, has come up multiple times during the campaign, most recently in last night's debate when Whitman reiterated her opposition to providing a pathway to legal residency for those who have lived in the country for a number of years as part of a comprehensive immigration reform law. Her GOP primary opponent, Steve Poizner, made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign. There were multiple opportunities for Whitman to disclose the situation on her terms.
She chose not to. Dealing with that decision to avoid accountability might well be driving her crazy about now.