Features, Municipal Government, National

E.P.A. Hires Contractor to Spy on Union Officials

December 21, 2017

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—An opposition-research firm the Environmental Protection Agency hired to monitor news coverage has been asking the government to give it workers’ emails, including those of two leaders in the union representing agency employees. The EPA gave Definers Public Affairs, a Virginia firm run by two longtime Republican political operatives, a no-bid contract earlier this month. Definers vice president Allan Blutstein has filed at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests this year for information on EPA employees who have criticized the Trump administration or agency head Scott Pruitt, according to federal records obtained by the New York Times. The targets included John O’Grady, president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which represents about 10,000 EPA employees, and Michael J. Mikulka, head of AFGE Local 704 in Chicago. Blutstein’s requests included “Any email sent by Michael J. Mikulka (Chicago) on March 28, 2017 that mentions or refers to: (1) President Trump, or (2) the ‘Clean Power’ plan.” “We will not be intimidated, and we will not stop speaking out in defense of the critical EPA work that Scott Pruitt seeks to destroy,” Local 704 said on Twitter Dec. 18. Read more

December 21, 2017

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