Meg Whitman's spectacularly failed campaign has offered up a new political lesson to live by:
Pay the housekeeper before you pay the consultants.
Yesterday, Whitman settled a claim against her by her now famous former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, for unpaid wages and reimbursements. The cost of the settlement? $5,500 (Diaz Santillan had been asked for more than $6,000).
If only she had paid Diaz Santillan that much or more when she let her go in June 2009. Perhaps the housekeeper would not have emerged to allege that she was mistreated by Whitman, a billionaire. It wouldn't have been much money for Whitman, who spent $90,000 a month on her lead political consultant.
Yesterday, as news spread of Whitman's settlement with the housekeeper, the Sacramento Bee reported that Whitman had kicked in another $2 million or so to her campaign account. That puts her personal spending on her failed campaign at $144 million.
The contrast between Whitman's failure to give Diaz Santillan a timely payment and her record campaign spending establishes a new standard for being penny-wise and pound-foolish.