By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun
9:32 PM EDT, October 8, 2012
A state senator wants a new law to compel Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold to repay his taxpayer-funded defense if found guilty in a pending discrimination case.
Sen. Bryan Simonaire announced Monday that state bill drafters are crafting legislation that would require elected local and state officials to refund taxpayers for legal fees and court awards when guilty in criminal or civil cases.
Simonaire said he requested "The Taxpayer Protection Act" after Leopold, a fellow Republican, did not publicly pledge to repay the tab of a $450-an-hour attorney hired by the county. The lawyer's firm billed Anne Arundel more than $20,000 for two weeks' work.
Leopold has denied wrongdoing in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a former press aide. Last week, Leopold told Simonaire he expected to prevail and that existing law calls for protecting elected officials from unfounded legal claims. He neither promised nor refused to repay the cost of defending him.
A similar law is pending before the County Council. The local version would require the county to try to recoup legal expenses when county employees put the government on the losing end of a lawsuit.
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