A top executive at a consulting firm hired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been investigating agency employees critical of the Trump administration.
The New York Times reported that Allan Blutstein, a vice president for Definers Public Affairs, has submitted dozens of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the EPA since the beginning of Trump's presidency, many of which target agency employees who are known to be critical of the administration.
“I wondered if they were emailing critical things about the agency on government time and how frequently they were corresponding about this,” Blutstein told the Times in an interview. “And did they do anything that would be useful for Republicans.”
He said he was looking into "resistance" figures in the government. But Blutstein said that his FOIA requests were not related to the work his firm is doing for the agency, and that he took on what he described to the Times as the "antiresistance" effort on his own.
“I am not doing mole hunts, or whatever,” Blutstein said. “I am almost always doing that research on my own.”
Definers, which specializes in opposition research, was hired by the EPA earlier this month on a $120,000 contract to help monitor media coverage at the agency. Mother Jones first reported the contract award.
Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the EPA, said in a statement to the Times that the decision to hire Definers was because the firm was significantly less expensive than the firm previously contracted to do the work.
“Definers was awarded the contract to do our press clips at a rate that is $87,000 cheaper than our previous vendor and they are providing no other services,” he said. “If you have questions regarding how Definers operates, we encourage you to contact them.”