SAN FRANCISCO — California’s gubernatorial campaign was largely about money, but in my opinion it has turned on the issue of illegal immigration. In a state with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants (20 percent of registered voters identify themselves as Latino, as do I), the issue of immigration recently seems to have turned the tide.
An article in “The Bay Citizen” talked about the money. “Throughout the governor’s race … Jerry Brown has assailed Republican Meg Whitman’s record-breaking investment in her campaign. Yet a record-busting torrent of cash from outside groups has provided a critical counterweight on Brown’s behalf.”
Much has been justifiably made over the $141 million Whitman personally spent on her campaign, and some of her ads essentially brag about being a billionaire, which does not sit well with many Californians during this economic crisis, including this out-of-work teacher. However, very little has been made about the $26.5 million “from independent spending by unions” (including state employees, electricians and teachers) that has gone to Brown, in addition to many more millions from more direct sources. Brown has spent much more from unions than most politicians ever see during a campaign. The “independent funds” targeted Latino voters in the Bay Area and black voters in the Los Angeles area with radio ads featuring Stevie Wonder and former NBA star Magic Johnson. According to that article, “the effect has been to provide Brown with a windfall of cash, while shielding him from some of the media attention-and perhaps some voter backlash-that have accompanied Whitman’s lavish spending.”
While the amounts spent are undeniably disproportionate, there is a very interesting dynamic to the money. “Should he win, the unions will be expecting payback, mostly likely in the form of a tax increase to pay for higher wages and the gold-plated pensions of state workers,” said Darrel Ng, a Whitman spokesman. “The labor-backed infusion of cash into Brown’s campaign effectively makes him ‘a wholly owned subsidiary’ of the unions.” Brown’s previous attitude towards unions make these statements totally believable.
In addition, “Independent expenditures free up the candidate, so they don’t have to get their hands dirty,” said James Cottrill, assistant political science professor at Santa Clara University. “They have helped Brown promote a positive agenda.”
However, what seems to have really turned this election is the complaint brought very recently by Gloria Allred, a notorious attorney most noted for filing suits against all-male organizations for discriminating against females while ignoring the fact that many all-female organizations are allowed to do exactly the same thing against males.
Ms. Allred filed a complaint against Meg Whitman and her husband for “mistreating” their Latina family maid, Nicky Diaz Santillan, and then terminating her employment after more than nine years. Allred claimed that Santillan did not leave her job despite her “demeaning” treatment (at $23/hour?) because Santillan did not believe she could find other employment, which is strange considering the fact that Santillan was actually the employee of a temp agency. Hired in 2000, Santillan confessed in 2009 to having used her sister’s driver’s license and SSN and lied on legal documents to claim eligibility to work in the U.S. Whitman said she then felt compelled to follow the law and terminate her employment. Only a couple of months before the election, Ms. Allred produced a letter from the INS that requested information on Ms. Santillan’s status, even though the temp agency was responsible for verifying eligibility. Gloria Allred’s case was technically about the maid being underpaid and not receiving travel compensation-also the responsibility of the temp agency. Nevertheless, Ms. Whitman was portrayed as having knowingly employed an illegal alien, and then mistreating that woman. After nine years of employment Ms. Santillan could not have found another position through the temp agency if she was that unhappy?
While the entire case seems bizarrely prejudiced against Whitman, the timing of it is even more suspicious. How is it that the sensational “information” has come out only two months before the election? While both Allred and Brown totally deny any collusion in this matter, the fact that Allred has actually not filed a lawsuit, merely a complaint, is in and of itself suspicious in the motivation for such timing.