Arundel withdraws bill to compel repayment of legal fees

Lawmaker says state should deal with issue first

November 05, 2012|By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

The Anne Arundel County measure that could have required County Executive John R. Leopold to repay his legal expenses was withdrawn Monday night before it came to a vote.

County Councilman Jamie Benoit, the sponsor, said he plans to let the state deal with the question of forcing public officials to repay taxpayers when a politician's actions put the government on the losing end of a lawsuit.

The withdrawn legislation by Benoit, a Democrat from Crownsville, was similar to a state bill proposed by Sen. Bryan Simonaire, a Republican from Pasadena.

After weeks of public pressure, Leopold has promised, with caveats, to reimburse the public if found guilty in a sex discrimination case. The tab for his private attorneys has cost taxpayers at least $40,000 since August.

In withdrawing the bill, Benoit also said he was swayed by a legal memo that pointed to conflicts with a state law that provides for a defense of public officials. Benoit said he would revisit the issue.

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