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The most expensive election in history hit another snag this week with news that would-be California governor, and ex-eBay boss, Meg Whitman employed a Mexican woman without permission to work in the US as her maid for nine years.

This wouldn't be so bad, except Whitman has run on a strong anti-immigration ticket calling for stronger penalties against anyone caught employing illegal workers.

Whitman has spent $119m of her own cash on the campaign, beating previous top spender Michael Bloomberg, who spent $110m getting the mayor's job in New York.

Whitman has taken a strong line against illegal immigration, promising raids on workplaces to check IDs, sending the National Guard out to patrol the border and fining business owners who employ illegal workers. Third-time offenders will have their business license removed for life, along with fines and other penalties.

But Whitman's ex-maid Nicky Diaz said she'd worked for the ex-eBay boss from 2000 until 2009. She said Whitman had been aware of her illegal status since 2003 but did nothing about it until preparing her run for governor in 2009, when she was sacked. Diaz also accused Whitman of being abusive.

Whitman has denied all the accusations, blaming an employment agency for failing to check Diaz's status. She said she sacked Diaz as soon as she was aware of her lack of legal documents, KTVU reports. ®

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