I’m surprised Gloria Allred didn’t wait two days to hold the press conference so that it’d be a true October surprise.

Well played, Democrats. Very well played.

Nicky Diaz, the household worker who alleges she was fired by Meg Whitman, the Republican nominee for California governor, after telling her that she was undocumented has recounted her version of what happened when she asked Whitman and her husband for help in June 2009:

“I told her I don’t have papers to work here and need her help,” the worker said at a press conference in attorney Gloria Allred’s office. Whitman’s husband “was very angry and said, ‘I told you, I told you she was going to bring us problems.’ Ms. Whitman turned to him and said, ‘Calm down, calm down.’ ”

She said Whitman’s husband “yelled” at her. “I was crying for fear and intimidation. With a face full of tears, I told them, ‘I believe in people. And I believe people deserve a chance. I also told them I don’t wish them any harm. I just wanted their help…

She said Whitman later left her a voicemail telling her she talked to her lawyer. “She said, ‘I cannot help you. And don’t say anything to my children. I will tell them you already have a new job … and from now on you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You have never seen me, and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?’ “

Diaz had worked for the Whitmans for nine years when all of this allegedly went down. Curiously, the voicemail she claims she received apparently wasn’t played at the presser; on the contrary, the only hard evidence Allred offered was a mysterious “document” that’ll supposedly support their allegations but which they won’t reveal until they’ve heard Whitman’s response to the charges. Hmmmmm.

As for that response, it’s simple: Whitman says she didn’t know Diaz was here illegally and gave TMZ a copy of Diaz’s job application to prove it. The question “Can you legally accept employment?” is answered “yes” on page one, and government documents — including a Social Security card, a California driver’s license, an IRA W-4, and an INS verification form — are provided on pages 12-14. Good enough? Maybe not. Allred claims that Whitman did know of Diaz’s true status notwithstanding the job application, citing letters Whitman allegedly received from the Social Security Administration raising issues about Diaz’s identity. I’m sure there are plenty of people who hire illegals and happily look the other way at documents they suspect are falsified, but if that’s true in Whitman’s case, riddle me this: Why, oh why, would a woman who was planning to launch the most expensive self-funded campaign in history have waited until June 2009 to rid herself of a political liability? Whitman’s obviously had political aspirations for years; she donated more than $225,000 to Republicans since 2000 and was part of Romney’s finance team during his presidential campaign before joining McCain’s team as national campaign co-chair. Clearly she’s been inching towards a run for office since at least 2008 — in which case, what exactly was the thought process here? “Okay, let’s spend in excess of $120 million on the California gubernatorial race but … let’s not pink-slip my illegal immigrant maid, who could singlehandedly destroy my bid?” Seriously?

Makes no sense to me, which makes me think Whitman really did believe that Diaz was here legally. But then, whether it makes sense is beside the point. The point is to simply level the accusation and make Whitman squirm. Like I say, well played, Democrats. For your viewing pleasure, here’s another moderate Republican extolling the virtues of illegal immigrant labor. See, Californians? All the cool kids are doing it!

Update: The boss emeritus notes that Whitman allegedly received a “red-flag no-match” letter about Diaz from Social Security as early as 2003 or 2005. If that’s true, why on earth didn’t Whitman at least investigate Diaz’s legal status at the time? How could she gamble $120 mil on a campaign knowing that this political time bomb was set to go off?