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The outgoing University of Arkansas chief spokesman accused UA Chancellor David Gearhart and other officials Friday of ordering the destruction of financial records requested by state auditors and media outlets during an investigation into a multimillion-dollar shortfall in the university’s fundraising division.

John Diamond, whose dismissal from his job as associate vice chancellor of university relations becomes effective Sept. 20, described what he said was a “culture of deception that developed and grew” within the UA administration during Friday’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee meeting.

Lawmakers reviewed a state audit that found deficits in the UA Division of Advancement’s budget of $2.14 million in fiscal 2011 and $4.19 million in fiscal 2012.

Gearhart categorically denied ordering UA workers to destroy records.

“His accusations today are astounding. They are not accurate. I deny we have ever told anybody to destroy documents,” the UA chancellor said, describing Diamond as a “disgruntled employee.”

While the audit report was submitted to lawmakers on Friday, it was not accepted. That means the report remains “open” and legislative auditors will provide more investigation into the allegations within the scope of their duties, according to Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton), co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The Arkansas Times also has coverage from the legislative hearing, which you can access here.

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