BY COULTER JONES
The revelation comes after Hackett’s campaign criticized his primary opponent, Dan Meuser, over hiring illegal immigrants at his family-owned business, Pride Mobility Inc.
Hackett said the woman, who he only knew as “Susie,” informed his wife, Ramaha, this past weekend she couldn’t legally work in the United States. Hackett’s family hired her two years ago to clean his house about twice a month and paid her by check, he said. The woman’s wage wasn’t reported to the Internal Revenue Service because it was a small enough that he didn’t have to, Hackett said. The woman was hired independently by the Hackett family, he said.
“I don’t specifically remember how we got her name, but it was not through a third party source,” Hackett said. “This is my obligation. We hired her. I’m not hiding behind anyone.”
Hackett supporters have criticized Meuser for Pride’s $41,000 fine stemming from hiring illegal immigrants in 1995. Pride settled the matter for $23,000 in 1997. Three illegal immigrants “falsified” documents, Meuser said, and his company stepped up background checks after the incident. Meuser said no one at the company knew about the workers’ illegal status.
“Chris Hackett’s campaign has spent weeks attacking Dan Meuser all the while concealing Hackett’s real record on illegals,” Meuser spokesman Eric Wallace said. “Hackett’s displayed a consistent record of hypocrisy in this campaign and now the public is able to see it firsthand on this issue.”
Hackett and Meuser are vying for the Republican nomination of the 10th District in the April 22 primary. The winner will face incumbent Chris Carney, D-Dimock Township, who is unopposed.
Hackett said his situation is very different from Pride’s. Many homeowners who hire part-time workers do not check Social Security cards and he had no reason to suspect the woman might be unable to work in the United States, Hackett said.
“I don’t believe its hypocrisy because the two issues are completely separate,” Hackett said. “We were not fined and we did not knowingly hire an illegal immigrant. I think there’s a chasm of a difference for what they did and us unknowingly hiring an illegal alien … You don’t get a $41,000 fine unless you know you hire an illegal immigrant.”
Hackett, who runs several businesses, including a staffing company, said he does background checks and employment paper searches for employees as well as using Homeland Security’s pilot program, “SAVE,” a database to help verify legal working status.
“We’ve never had any raids on our business,” Hackett said. “We hire a large number of people, but we have a good process for hiring.”
Wallace said Hackett’s action show discrepancies with his campaign rhetoric.
“It’s only a matter of time before Hackett brings his negative and hypocritical campaign to the airwaves despite his promise to run a positive campaign,” Wallace said.