A woman standing in front of a tree
Valley Water board member Rebecca Eisenberg is pictured in this file photo. She is currently facing a gender discrimination investigation.

A Silicon Valley politician allegedly stole thousands of pages of confidential documents related to an investigation into claims she harassed and abused her colleagues.

San José Spotlight has learned that security camera footage captured the incident.

Rebecca Eisenberg, an elected director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, became the subject of a yearlong investigation after employees accused her of gender discrimination, intimidation and belittling or insulting men in the workplace. The probe began in February 2023 and had just been completed recently, officials said.

The board of directors, including Eisenberg, was allowed to view 2,000 confidential pages related to the investigation — including supporting documents and interviews with employees — in a secure room near the Valley Water clerk’s office. Members could not take photos or copies of the sensitive materials, and were told the documents couldn’t leave the room.

Board Vice Chair Richard Santos said the documents went missing after Eisenberg viewed them. He also confirmed video footage exists showing what happened.

“She was left by herself,” Santos told San José Spotlight. “And when she came back the documents were gone. She got in her car and took off — she didn’t say anything.”

Santos said he’s worried for Valley Water employees who were promised confidentiality to share candid details about Eisenberg’s behavior. Now, their names have potentially been exposed outside the organization and some fear retribution.

“It was confidential information that shouldn’t leave the room because it could implicate others,” Santos said. “It’s such a serious thing because I care about those employees and residents — people who made complaints and concerns, and stood up.”

Eisenberg acknowledged she was told not to remove the documents. She refused to say whether she took them.

“I am not going to answer that. I’m just not, because the truth is, what if I did? What if I did? What is wrong about that?” Eisenberg told San José Spotlight. “If they have video of me taking that to my car, so what? Why would they claim I don’t have a right to this? Why would they claim that? Under what authority do they have to deprive me of this investigation?”

Eisenberg called the investigation an abuse of process and misuse of public dollars. She said Valley Water leaders refuse to disclose how much the agency spent on the probe. The move to spend money investigating her, she added, is “the crime here.”

“The fact that the story is that I maybe took these documents from the agency, to me that is emblematic of how dysfunctional the ‘golden spigot’ is,” Eisenberg said. “They spent so much money on this, but the subject of the investigation is not allowed to have a copy.”

The incident is another black eye for the elected leadership of Valley Water, the region’s largest water supplier funded by taxpayers. The 7-member board has faced years of ongoing political rifts, animosity and division.

Eisenberg ruffled feathers almost immediately after unseating her predecessor Gary Kremen in November 2022, who faced allegations of his own that included workplace bullying. Eisenberg blasted Valley Water for failing to hold Kremen accountable and making changes after an investigation found Kremen violated district policies when he bullied, verbally assaulted and threatened district workers.

In early 2023, Valley Water officials said they received numerous workplace complaints accusing Eisenberg of gender discrimination and making inappropriate comments. Documents obtained by San José Spotlight alleged Eisenberg blamed the region’s infrastructure issues — such as flooding — on men who “love to build things” using concrete. She reportedly told Valley Water officials they are untrustworthy and incompetent, said they lacked common sense and used abusive language such as “douchebag” and “ass” in her emails.

Eisenberg said the investigation against her is retaliation after she accused officials of sexism and raised concerns about how women are treated at the water agency.

Santos told San José Spotlight he advised Valley Water CEO Rick Callender to turn over any evidence — including the security tapes — to the police and Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Callender declined comment. Valley Water officials denied a request from this news organization for a copy of the video, citing an “active investigation.”

There is precedent for Silicon Valley politicians facing legal trouble or being charged for compromising sensitive documents.

Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker was charged last year with a misdemeanor for allegedly violating his duty to keep a draft civil grand jury report confidential and a felony perjury charge for allegedly lying about it.

Becker pled not guilty to both charges.

Santos wants authorities to investigate the incident and said residents should see the secret investigative report into Eisenberg’s conduct.

“It should be made public,” he said. “Nobody’s above the law.”

Senior Reporter Joseph Geha contributed to this report.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at [email protected] or follow @RamonaGiwargis on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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