Log in Subscribe

Email Provides Insights to Hopes' Departure from County

A Feb. 10 email from former deputy county administrator Rob Reinshuttle to Manatee County Commissioners obtained by The Bradenton Times on Friday seems to confirm much of what TBT has suspected regarding the recent shakeup among the top rung of county government, including the surprising departure of former county administrator Scott Hopes.

Reinshuttle begins by telling commissioners that he is "writing in regard to adverse and retaliatory actions taken against me by former Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes."

Reinshuttle goes on to allege that his termination was directly related to the "the Teitelbaum matter," referring to sexual misconduct allegations made against a close friend of Hopes who had been briefly hired away from the Manatee School District to become Manatee County's fourth deputy county administrator, a position that doubled from two under Hopes' brief tenure.

Mitchell Teitelbaum was alleged to have made inappropriate and unwanted physical contact with a young female employee of the county on the same day his hiring was confirmed by Manatee County Commissioners. In his email, Reinshuttle alleges that he was present for a conversation between Hopes and the county's HR director, during which Hopes "instructed her to take a series of adverse actions against the victim in this situation as well as a supervisor and a witness."

TBT had previously reported that the employee who made the allegation was transferred out of the county administration building, while her supervisor, public records manager Debbie Scaccianoce, was escorted from the building and placed on administrative leave. TBT reached out to Hopes the next day to enquire as to the reason for Scaccianoce’s suspension and the status of any investigation into the allegations against Teitelbaum. We received no response, however, both Scaccianoce and the employee that made the allegations were instructed just hours later to report back to the county administration building the next morning.

Sources with firsthand knowledge of the events had previously alleged that Reinshuttle witnessed Teitelbaum touching the employee, which he confirms in the email, adding that he had made Hopes aware of the fact that the accusation was true. Reinshuttle goes on the allege that Hopes asked him to "suppress that information," while also reducing the scope of Reinshuttle's duties as a deputy administrator.

Reinshuttle then goes on to allege that he made the BOCC aware that Hopes had engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations, despite the fact that the county commission had voted not to do so, as Teitelbaum had withdrawn his resignation from the school district and returned to work there, reasoning that he had never really been an employee of the county and therefore was not subject to such oversight at that point. Records obtained by TBT, however, demonstrate that Teitelbaum had onboarded with the county and was in fact participating in meetings and otherwise conducting himself as a deputy county administrator between his confirmation by the board and return to the district.

Sources within the county told TBT that, despite the direction of the board, Hopes had planned to conduct an outside investigation that would exonerate Teitelbaum so that he could return to his lucrative job with the school district. TBT has also obtained public records that show Hopes had initiated the process, along with an "engagement agreement" with Empath Employment and HR Law that detailed the scope of the investigation for a fee of $350 an hour, capped at $25,000. The county then canceled the services six days after Hopes "resigned."

For his part, Teitelbaum has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct. However, the school district, which had previously disciplined Teitelbaum following sexual misconduct allegations in 2020, suspended the attorney once the allegations at the county came to light and ultimately demoted him for misleading the school board and superintendent in not revealing that he was subject to a harassment complaint at the time he requested that his resignation be "tabled."

Reinshuttle closes by telling commissioners, "The former Administrator was unethical in many of his actions and I had no choice but to make this known to the Board. Mr. Hopes created a hostile work environment for me, and then retaliated for sharing what he was doing with the Board. I am requesting to be reinstated as my actions were not to undermine the Administrator, but to internally bring to light actions that were unethical and illegal and adverse to the interests of Manatee County."

On the morning of Feb. 7, TBT received tips that Hopes was to be fired by the board that day. The county commission was in session and, following the lunch break, hastily scheduled a 2 p.m. emergency meeting in which Hopes shocked the public by "resigning." Neither he nor the board gave any indication as to why the administrator was suddenly departing.

Click here to read the email in full.

Dennis "Mitch" Maley is an editor and columnist for The Bradenton Times and the host of ourweekly podcast. With over two decades of experience as a journalist, he has covered Manatee County governmentsince 2010. He is a graduate of Shippensburg University and later served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Clickherefor his bio. His 4th novel, Burn Black Wall Street Burn, was recently released and is availablehere.


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.