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Act of principle

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Last week we reported that Secretary of State Mark Martin's executive assistant, Teresa Belew, no longer worked for the office.

A Times Freedom of Information Act request turned up Belew's resignation letter and an e-mail she wrote to Martin's Chief Deputy Doug Matayo. Belew said she resigned over concerns that "certain aspects related to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are not being properly followed by the Secretary of State's Office."

Belew said she was told by Deputy Secretary of Public Affairs Alice Stewart to delete an e-mail that was part of a response to an extensive FOIA request by the Arkansas Times. Stewart says she never asked Belew to delete an e-mail, but a calendar reminder that she believed did not fall within the scope of the request.

Belew said she stands behind her letter and e-mail, including an assertion that the office's legal counsel, A.J. Kelly, told her "the most important thing was to delay the delivery of the FOIA until after budgets were approved."

Stewart says the office is looking for a replacement. Belew, 53, is the former executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and was paid $50,000.

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