Betty Anne Canizio — the Board Of Elections (BOE) official who was suspended in the aftermath of the purge of registered Brooklyn voters revealed during New York’s presidential primary — has no intention of ending her campaign for committeewoman of the 64th Assembly District in Bay Ridge, she told Bensonhurst Bean.
Though she has been barred by BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan from carrying out any duties as an elected official while an internal BOE investigation is underway, Canizio told Bensonhurst Bean the uproar will not impact her run against incumbent Joanne Seminara.
“We don’t know how long the suspension is going to last. We don’t know if I’m terminated. And if I am terminated, then I can run for president,” she told Bensonhurst Bean.
Canizio is the second official to be suspended since the news broke that at least 125,000 voters were removed from the voter rolls between March 2014 through May 2015, prompting investigations from New York Attorney General Eric Schnederman and Comptroller Scott Stringer. Chief Clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano, a Republican, was suspended without pay several days prior.
Canizio, who slid into the same dual role of BOE Chief Clerk and 49th Assembly leader vacated by now-retired Maryrose Sattie in June 2014, spent the majority of her career working for Assemblyman Peter Abbate, and has long enjoyed the friendship and strong support of Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio.
While she is still serving out her role in the 49th District — which includes Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Sunset Park — Canizio recently moved to Bay Ridge and is not eligible to run for re-election. In a rare move, Seddio is now backing Canizio’s effort to dethrone a sitting committee member in Bay Ridge’s 64th District, according to sources.
Records indicate that approximately 20 temps hired by the Board worked around the clock performing data entry and filing related to the ongoing voter purge during the above mentioned time period. Not only did Board officials sign off on the numbers, but the discrepancies were flagged during a meeting involving several high ranking BOE board members, according to minutes obtained by Kings County Politics.
A timeline of Canizio’s work history, obtained by Bensonhurst Bean, indicates that she was employed at the BOE during most of the purge. Sattie retired from the Board on July 4, 2014, about four months after the voter purge process allegedly began. Canizio was hired one month later, and was promoted to Sattie’s role on June 29. Using this timeline, Canizio oversaw the voter purge for nearly one year.
“Even though I was there — things were already in motion that were just happening,” Canizio said.
Canizio then went on medical leave until September 2015 — three months after the purge allegedly ended — and returned to the Board full time by January 2016.
While Canizio declined to comment on specific claims against her, she said she is looking forward to clearing her name.
“All I can say is I’m looking forward to the investigation,” said Canizio. “My name has been trashed and re-trashed, and most of the stuff that was in the paper was not factual.”
Current 64th District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll, who is running for re-election alongside Canizio, defended his running mate’s record of service to the community, calling co-leader Seminara an “absent district leader.”
“I’m supporting [Canizio] for the leadership, because she has been district leader since before she started working for the BOE,” said Carroll. “She cares about issues that are really important to the voters.”