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A Chilean immigrant who received money and other help from 3rd District congressional candidate John Jacob said Friday she and her husband have always been legally documented to live in the United States.

Marta Araya de Silva, who worked as a housekeeper and office worker for Jacob from 2000 to 2004, wrote a letter from Chile, she said, to clear her and husband Oscar's name.

"Both my husband and I have always kept our legal status in the U.S. from the very beginning until now," Silva wrote. ''Currently, we have the status of 'legal resident' in the country, and my husband is in the process of application for citizenship.''

Opponents of Jacob's House run against five-term Rep. Chris Cannon had for days been shopping allegations to reporters that Jacob hired undocumented workers. The story finally broke in several news outlets at week's end.

Silva's letter was provided Friday to The Tribune by Jacob's campaign.

It was addressed to the Deseret Morning News and demanded a printed retraction and a formal apology. Congressman Cannon's brother, Utah Republican Chairman Joe Cannon, is on the News' board of directors.

"You . . . have been willing to not only attack Mr. John Jacob and his credibility and honesty, but that of me and my husband's by printing information that is inaccurate."

Silva complained the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned paper reprinted rumors "spread by [Latino activist] Mr. Tony Yapias (who never knew us and never has been in position to comment on our legal status) . . . ," she wrote. "You discredit your article without first doing your research or homework."

Morning News assignment editor Chuck Gates said the paper is reviewing the letter and will decide how to respond.

The central allegation raised by Yapias, a Cannon supporter, and others was that Jacob had paid the couple and other undocumented workers in cash and checks. Those allegations have not been substantiated.

Jacob said his involvement with the de Silvas and their three children began six years ago when he was asked by his LDS bishop to help them.

The Eagle Mountain businessman gave the couple money and paid some expenses for them. Later, Jacob says, the couple asked to do some work for him to return his kindness.

Officers of his company helped Marta de Silva set up a company, The Office Specialist. Jacob said he then paid Silva $3,000 a month through her company regardless of how much she worked. Jacob's then-accountant, Glen Sexton, questioned the legality of the arrangement, which was intended to get around prohibitions on direct employment of immigrants with work-restricted visas. "It would appear Mr. Jacob had a guest worker program of his own, but his program may not have been within the bounds of law," Sexton said in an interview Thursday.

But Mike Bevins, financial controller of Jacob's company at the time, defended the arrangement. "If it was set up appropriately, it was within the law," he said.

Jacob said Friday the controversy had not affected his desire to run for office and he invited reporters to examine checks and other documents related to The Office Specialist.

"I guess we are still waiting to see if it will hurt or help us," Jacob said of the June 27 primary election. "I believe it will hurt Cannon more than it's helping him."