Zoe Baird, President-elect Bill Clinton’s first nominee for attorney general, may be the most famous example in recent US history of the political perils of employing illegal help. In 1990, just prior to taking a job as general counsel at Aetna Life Insurance, Ms. Baird hired as a part-time driver and baby sitter a married pair of Peruvians living illegally in the US. Baird did not pay Social Security taxes for either worker. She later said that she believed that since she was sponsoring their attempts to gain citizenship it was legal for her to hire them.
Both workers were gone by the time Baird was nominated for attorney general after Clinton’s election in 1992. But after the New York Times published details of their employment a firestorm ensued. Baird eventually withdrew her candidacy in the face of widespread political opposition and polls that showed a majority of Americans did not think she should be confirmed as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer.