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Their view of an audit could be boiled down to two words: old news. But the subtext and perhaps the urgency to get out ahead of the official release of the secretary of state could be summed up in just one word: fear.

OPB - Portland Public Schools headquarters building.For a year, an auditing team from the Oregon secretary of state's office scoured documents and pored over financial records from a basement office at the Portland Public Schools headquarters building. An audit of the state's largest school district has been on Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's agenda since he campaigned for the office in 2016.

The release of the audit's findings has been rumored for weeks among well-connected school advocates. Critics of Portland Public Schools have suggested the findings underscore ongoing problems in the state's largest district. At the same time, one Democratic legislator representing parts of PPS blasted the audit before seeing it, calling the document "overtly political."

The audit's contents have remained a well-kept secret, until Tuesday afternoon. That's when PPS took the unusual step of preempting the audit's release by holding a meeting with reporters.

Before that meeting, an official with the secretary of state's office told OPB the agency had asked PPS not to discuss the audit with reporters until after it was released.

The secretary of state's office shared a sternly-worded, six-paragraph letter signed by Richardson.

The letter says that sharing information before the release date and time reflects a "desperate attempt to distract from some of the highly concerning findings in the audit." It goes on to allege a "disappointing act of bad faith" that "demonstrates an aversion to accountability that shows why this audit is needed."

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can read the rest of their story here.

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