Private attorneys in three months have billed taxpayers more than $50,000 for representing Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold in a gender discrimination case, according to invoices released under a Public Information Act request by The Baltimore Sun.

Leopold has promised, with caveats, to repay the sum if the county loses the lawsuit, which is entering its third year. A former press aide of Leopold's sued him and the county government in 2010, alleging he harassed her and orchestrated her firing when she complained about his conduct. Leopold has denied wrongdoing.

Until August, county attorneys represented the two-term Republican in the civil case but concluded that Leopold's interests and those of the government no longer aligned. The county hired private attorneys from Thatcher Law Firm at rates up to $450 an hour to defend Leopold.

A Nov. 15 invoice charged the county $9,673.92 for work during October. Previous bills from September and two weeks in August total more than $41,000.

A trial date has not been set in the case.

ecox@baltsun.com