Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the Brooklyn Chief Clerk, was suspended without pay, pending a probe into the administration of voter rolls in Brooklyn. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation after his state voter hotline got more than 1,000 complaints about the New York primary. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also announced that the would audi the Board of Elections in New York to try to find the source of more than 100,000 voters’ being purged from Brooklyn’s voter rolls. Who is Diane Haslett-Rudiano and how is she connected to all of this?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Haslett-Rudiano Was Suspended For Possibly Skipping Required Steps When Cleaning Voter Records
Haslett-Rudiano, 73, wasn’t fired but she was suspended without pay, according to NBC New York. The suspension will stay in place while an internal probe is conducted to determine what happened that caused over 100,000 voters’ registrations to be purged in Brooklyn.
According to New York Daily News, she may have made an error when cleaning up the voting books. She may have skipped a required step that would have stopped the computer system from purging eligible voters.
Haslett-Rudiano is also the Republican Commissioner for the Board of Elections’ Overseas and Military Voter Services.
According to the New York Daily News, Haslett-Rudiano worked for the BOE since 1999 and made $113,000 a year.
2. Voters Who Thought They Were Registered Couldn’t Vote Because Their Registration Was Purged
The complaints about voter registration in New York have been huge, similar to complaints seen in other states like Arizona. Because New York is a closed primary, you can only vote for the party in which you’re registered. But many voters reported that, without any changes made on their part, their voter registrations were either purged completely or their party affiliations were changed. In Brooklyn, the problem became especially egregious when it was discovered that 125,000 people had been purged from the rolls, CBS New York reported.
Hillary Clinton won King’s County, which includes Brooklyn, by 57,909 votes, US Uncut reported. If the purged voters had been able to vote, it’s possible that the results might have been very different.
3. She Refused to Sell a Townhouse That Was Named One of Five Ugliest Buildings on the Upper West Side
Haslett-Rudiano came under scrutiny in 2013 for refusing to sell a townhouse that many said was becoming a health and safety hazard, New York Daily News reported. She bought the townhouse in 1976 for $5,000 and it was worth $5.5 million in 2013. But she wouldn’t sell it because of an emotional attachment. She owed $12,000 in back taxes on the house, located on W. 76th St., and violations were piling up.
New York Daily News said the house had broken windows covered by boards, dirty water pooling on the patio, and it was overrun by rats and frequently visited by vagrants. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said that Haslett-Rudiano was “a very bad example of home ownership and public servant responsiveness. She’s not somebody who should be either owning property or, in my opinion, (be a supervisor) of the Board of Elections.”
Haslett-Rudiano was having trouble letting the property go because her late husband had always wanted to renovate it. She said his dreams were wrapped up in that building. She ultimately sold the building for $6.6 million in 2014.
4. In 2005, She Came Under Scrutiny For Using a False Voter Registration Address
In 2005, Haslett-Rudiano came under scrutiny for using an East New York address as her residence on voter registration, while actually living in Forest Hills, Queens, New York Daily News reported. However, the owner of the house in East New York disputed the allegation, saying that Haslett-Rudiano really did live there and was her upstairs tenant. A mail carrier denied that claim and said he had never delivered a letter for her in the last five years. An internal probe into the allegations found she didn’t live there, but she was kept in her position, the Daily News said in a later article. The attorney gave supplemental information that led to the board’s unanimous decision to clear Haslett-Rudiano.
5. Some Sources, Like the New York Post, Speculated that Haslett-Rudiano May Have Been a Scapegoat
Meanwhile, some people aren’t convinced and believe Haslett-Rudiano was a scapegoat. The New York Post wrote a particularly scathing article, claiming that Haslett-Rudiano was removed to protect the BOE Deputy Clerk, Betty Ann Canizio. The Post went on to report that Canizio is an ally of Frank Seddio, a Brooklyn Democratic Chairman who may have helped her get her post.
Meanwhile, Canizio is denying these claims. When asked on her official Faceobok page, “Did you purge Democratic votes to help Hillary(sic)?”, Canizio responded: “No, was a Bernie supporter. Please don’t make assumptions. (sic)”
On her other Facebook page, she interacted with one voter and looked into the voter’s question about registration. Paula Katinas said: “My name wasn’t on the voting rolls when I went to vote at New Utrecht HS yesterday. I’ve been voting in primaries and in general elections for 40 years, since I was 18, and I’ve never had a problem at the polls until now. What should I do?” Canizio looked her up and said that she was registered as a Democrat, but in 2013 she changed her party enrollment to indicate “no party.” Katinas thought that was strange, because she didn’t recall changing her registration.