Source : Imgur
Last week-end, the annual circle jerk known as the Inner Circle Show brought together journalists, lobbyists, politicians, and regulators at the New York Hilton Hotel for an evening of schmoozing and ass-kissing between people, whose jobs it is to keep our government honest and in check.
Capital New York reporter Sally Goldenberg and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito posed for a photograph as a couple by drawing attention to how they had apparently exchanged hairstyles for the evening.
Ms. Goldenberg is having a love affair with Phil Walzak, a chief communications operative of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City). Given that Ms. Goldenberg is willing to schmooze with the Council speaker and to date the mayor's press secretary, the blogger and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy rightly asked : how much of this intermingling can exist before a reporter sells-out his or her journalistic independence ?
Reports also surfaced that a major political blogger was confronted at Friday evening's dressed rehearsal of the Inner Circle Show by a prominent lobbyist, who has been entangled in many controversial big business transactions ranging from the corrupt Emergency Communications Transformation Program, or ECTP, to the $2 billion luxury condominium tower, One57, which benefitted from a controversial tax abatement legislation package in Albany at or around the same time when the building's developer was funneling large campaign contributions to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York), who signed the tax abatement legislation into law.
The prominent lobbyist, George Arzt, reportedly told the blogger that his financial future was ruined, because the blogger kept raising questions about the lobbyist's work, according to a source.
In a further sign of the revolving door between regulators, lobbyists, and politicians, Mayor de Blasio hired Jerika Richardson, a former communications official from the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district, to serve as a special advisor to the mayor. Ms. Richardson's job includes giving the mayor insights into the wave of federal public corruption cases being waged by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
At Saturday evening's presentation of the Inner Circle, Ms. Richardson was photographed with her former boss, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was on hand to fraternize with the jokesters, including Governor Cuomo, even as U.S. Attorney Bharara investigates the public corruption crisis that has engulfed governments from City Hall to Albany.
Ironically, at U.S. Attorney Bharara's moving testimony before the now-shuttered Moreland Commission in 2013, the one of the nation's top federal prosecutors called for a rigorous and independent press to investigate corruption. U.S. Attorney Bharara lamented the jokester media culture at a later speech, which he delivered at New York Law School last January. He again repeated his request for a rigorous press in a subsequent speech delivered earlier this month at Fordham Law School.
For many government reform activists, U.S. Attorney Bharara represents a key check on public corruption precisely because the media, regulators, and other prosecutors are encumbered by the corrupting influences that lobbyists and big money donors exert in the political system.
The Inner Circe Show is nominally promoted as a charity event that raises high five or low six figures in donations for nonprofit organizations. However, that rationale is used to justify the intentional de-escalation of "speaking truth to power," a moral dilemma exposed by the media blackout that befell comedian Stephen Colbert's controversial act during the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
How can one purport to assert that one is independent of the corrupt political players at the same time when one intermingles in that corrupt political system ? Powerholders don't want to be scrutinized.
Progress Queens does not wish to deprive U.S. Attorney Bharara of a social life. It just contradicts what he himself has asked of the media and the public when one sees the prominent U.S. Attorney participate in the further weakening of checks and balances in government by his attendance at such a farcical event, regardless of the evening's justification.
-- Progress Queens