"Culture of Secrecy" Alleged at UA

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - An employee of the University of Arkansas tells legislators that a growing deficit within one U of A division created a "culture of secrecy."

A meeting involving budgeting and debates over accounting methods quickly heated up when allegations of document destruction were aimed at University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart.

State auditors who recently looked at the books maintained by the Division of University Advancement. A final report noted that the investigation was limited because of missing financial records.

One soon-to-be former employee says he knows what happened to those records.

John Diamond used to coordinate Freedom of Information Act requests and responses for the University of Arkansas.

By this time next week he will be unemployed...and he's going out with a bang.

"Members of the advancement division's leadership team and staff received directives from key individuals that resulted in the destruction of documents relevant to the audits and to the FOIA requests," Diamond testified to lawmakers.

The allegation of document destruction contradicted Chancellor David Gearhart's remarks to legislators about openness and transparency on the Hill.

"His allegations today are astounding to me, they are not accurate," Gearhart told legislators. "And I hope he has proof of them because it is a pretty serious allegation for him to make."

"I think it's up to the committee now...I'll provide them with all the documentation...the names of the people who want to talk to the committee....knowing that the committee can protect them from being terminated from the university," said Diamond to reporters after the meeting.

"We have never given anybody instructions to destroy any documents...particularly if they are FOI-able," said Gearhart to reporters, also after the meeting. "So...if he is claiming that we have done something that is against the law I hope he has substantiation. Because I completely deny that."

Shortly after Mr. Diamond made his allegations of document shredding the audit committee voted to table further discussion for a future meeting.

Audit finds $4.19M deficit in U of A division (Sept. 10)

Official accuses UA officials of destroying docs (Sept. 13)