Woman accused of being whistle blower

September 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A series of scathing news reports about the Peralta Community College District prompted an internal investigation as to the source of the leak. On Tuesday night, the board of trustees debated what to do about an executive assistant believed responsible for revealing embarrassing information about her boss.

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Peralta Community College District administrators accused executive assistant Jennifer Lenahan of giving confidential information to the media.

"Ms. Lenahan continues to lack the judgment of a confidential employee, she continues to lack the understanding of confidentiality," said general counsel Thuy Nguyen.

A Bay Area News Group reporter revealed a nearly $1 million contract given, without a bid process, to a business partner of chancellor Elihu Harris.

"I've been in politics for 30 years and I've been embarrassed a lot. I've never retaliated against anyone for embarrassing me," said Harris.

Lenahan has been called a whistle blower, but she claims she never gave any records to the media and the Bay Area News Group says they never received any records from her. Still Lenahan became the focus of the administration's investigation.

"I think her actions in many ways breached confidentiality," said Harris.

"I need to have my attorney with me. I don't feel comfortable with this. I've never been in this situation before," said Lenahan.

Lenahan's attorney says that even if his client did release the documents showing payments to Harris's business partner, it's public record and there's nothing confidential about the expenditure of public funds.

"I think people were casting about for who to blame for the embarrassment and the humiliation the chancellor was facing as the result of that and they found her as the person who somehow they needed to blame for all of it," said David Weintraub, Lenahan's attorney.

In the end an irritated board of trustees voted not to fire Lenahan, instead they suspended her without pay for 10 days and will give her another position at the college.

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