The folks at Calbuzz are asking the same questions that have been bothering me for a while now: How could Team Whitman, with its legions of high-paid political consultants, have bungled the Nicky Diaz story so badly?
If her campaign team knew about the problem a year ago (and she swears she told her consultants), why didn't they go public themselves, control the damage and eliminate the story as an October Surprise?
According to Political Consulting 101, this is standard operating procedure: control the bad news, put it out yourself, do it early to inoculate against a late hit. It borders on campaign consultant malpractice to have handled it as it was handled.
Of course, campaign consultants can't be sued for malpractice; there's no regulatory body, no disciplinary association. But it's astounding that so many professionals who are earning so much money did such a bad job here.
More important, it borders on criminal arrogance (alas, that's not a crime) that Whitman didn't give Diaz some sort of decent severance:
Why not spend $20,000 or so (or more, if need be) to hire her the best immigration attorney she could find to help her see what could be done to stay in the country or ease her return or whatever?
Why not offer her a year’s severance (about $18,000) or help her with re-settlement costs in Mexico? She was, in eMeg’s words, “a member of our extended family” (or as Meg said in one press conference, Freud never sleeping, “an extended member of our family”).
Okay, so Whitman and Harsh had to fire Diaz once they knew she was here illegally, if you buy their story. But they didn’t have to kick her to the curb.
I was pretty sure Whitman was on track to lose even before this happened, but I think the Diaz fiasco has sealed the deal. And it's not so much the fact that she hired an undocumented worker (LOTS of Californians do that every day) but the fact that she was such an asshole to her employee.
And the $120 million campaign to create a carefully crafted image couldn't deal with that basic problem.