Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, arguably the state's highest ranking Republican and who is also up for re-election is the defendant in a gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed today by a former employee. According to The Capital, "The complaint alleges Leopold 'created a hostile working environment for women' and contends 'virtually all of the women who worked in the county executive's office were terrified and terrorized by Leopold,' according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Capital.
Will this sink Leopold's chances at re-election this November? No doubt he'll have lots of explaining to do and spinning to offer, but he's presumed not guilty and such a suit won't likely reach its conclusion for many months. With so many stories and rumors swirling around about his conduct, one might also ask what happens if he is re-elected and is found guilty? I am only guessing, but civil penalties might be severe--and if true, and others had been victimized, they too might be stepping forward and this simply won't sit well with voters--or at least 51% of them and probably a lot more.
County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson has already vehemently denied the charges.
Leopold's Democratic opponent for re-election is Joanna Conti and for the Green Party, Mike Shay. Anne Arundel County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Thibodeau said:
"This is the latest chapter in the John Leopold saga of allegations of misconduct. Up until now, the voters have settled for his denials. That time is over. Our county demands a leader that is honest and transparent, and John Leopold needs to come clean about what’s really been going on in his office. If he’s going to hide and not comment, then he shouldn’t get to use the taxpayers’ money to defend himself."Silly season? No. A political witch-hunt? Maybe in some aspects. It's more like it's just politics and business as usual with an elected official who, though presumed not guilty, sure has a lot of shadows hanging over him and about whom many questoins have been raised...and raised.