Former Whitman Nanny: “I Totally Believe” Nicky

A former Whitman nanny, who herself had trouble getting paid by and receiving her tax documents from the Harsh-Whitman household after only two months of employment, says she "totally believe[s]" Nicandra Diaz Santillan about being employed illegally by the California GOP gubernatorial candidate for nine years.

Jill Armstrong says she has good reason to accept Mexican housekeeper Nicandra Diaz Santillan’s tale of working in the household of GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman – because Armstrong herself was a domestic for the former eBay CEO.

"I totally believe" Diaz, Armstrong, 59, of Mountain View, said in an interview with The Chronicle. "I know the family. I know what it was like."

Armstrong had her own problems with the Harsh-Whitman household as an employer.

Armstrong, who worked for Whitman and her husband, Griff Harsh, during the summer of 1998, produced the W-2 form from that year, which reflects her stint as a full-time nanny for Whitman. Her hiring was confirmed by Palo Alto-based Town and Country Resources, the employment agency that placed Diaz with Whitman two years later.

Armstrong said she quit after about two months because of the demands and difficulties of the job.

"I had enough," she said in an interview, describing trouble getting paid what she believed she was owed, and challenges in dealing with household chores and in supervising Whitman’s two young sons.

Whitman challenged Armstrong’s request for pay when she had set up their household after a move from Boston:

Armstrong said Whitman and Harsh were in the process of moving from the Boston area into Apt. 215 at the Oak Creek Apartments in Palo Alto, near Stanford University Medical Center, where Harsh works. Armstrong said it was agreed that she would be paid full-time and was brought on to help Whitman get the living space ready before the children came to California.

"I set up her apartment. I did the unpacking," and other jobs to get the place ready for the children, Armstrong said.

But she described Whitman as "cheap" and said she was surprised when her boss at first balked at paying the agreed salary – arguing that Armstrong didn’t "deserve" it because she wasn’t yet working full-time as a nanny.

Armstrong also had difficulty getting tax documents in order to file her own tax return the following year:

Her biggest problem, she said, came months later when she was ready to file her taxes but hadn’t received a tax form from Whitman. She called her former employer to say, "Meg, you did not give me a W-2."

Armstrong heard nothing and "had to threaten to take her to the IRS" before Whitman’s accountant called back and said, "Give me the numbers; give me the hours," she recalled.

"That’s Meg’s responsibility," Armstrong said she replied. "Isn’t she supposed to have all that written down?

"He said, ‘Look, will you work with me?’ " Armstrong said. "And that’s how we came up with the numbers."

Armstrong’s W-2 form shows her salary for two months of full-time work was exactly $5,200.

Two months of full-time (presumably forty-hour weeks) yields an hourly wage of $16.25.

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