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Mark Martin's fight

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Remember Teresa Belew, who quit a job as Secretary of State Mark Martin's executive assistant because she said the office wasn't following the Freedom of Information Act? She said (and Martin's office denied) that an office employee told her to delete an e-mail that would have been covered by an Arkansas Times FOI request. Later, Martin spent more than $3,000 on legal advice from the Friday Law Firm on following the FOI law.

Belew, meanwhile, finds herself up against Martin's determination to get even. Belew, who qualified for unemployment compensation when she lost her job last year as director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, stopped those benefits when she got a job with Martin. She applied to have them reinstated when she left Martin's office. The Department of Workforce Services approved resumption of benefits, finding Belew left her job for cause. But Martin's office, which opposed that finding, wouldn't stand for her to receive checks. It asked for review by a single-person appeals tribunal, which reversed the state office and said she wasn't entitled to benefits. Belew has now appealed her case to the State Board of Review. She thinks leaving for unwillingness to violate the law is "cause." Martin, understandably, doesn't want that official stain on his record.

Martin's spokesman, Alex Reed, refused to talk about the case. He also refused to talk about this: Martin's fight against benefits for Belew has been waged for the office by Kevin Crass of the Friday firm. How much was Crass paid to fight Belew? Was it part of the $3,100 in putative FOI advice? Reed wouldn't say.

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