Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Definers Public Affairs, Group Known for Stalking and Harassing Climate Advocates, Hired by EPA to Run Media War Room

Popular
Definers Public Affairs, Group Known for Stalking and Harassing Climate Advocates, Hired by EPA to Run Media War Room
Joe Pounder, president of Definers Public Affairs, at Web Summit 2017 in Portugal. Web Summit / Flickr

By Graham Readfearn

A Republican-aligned research group with links to a campaign to stalk and intimidate environmental groups, journalists and campaigners has been handed a $120,000 contract to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shape its media coverage.

Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs was given the 12-month "no bid" contract to provide "news analysis and brief service" to the EPA, as reported by Mother Jones.


Definers is the corporate arm of America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC and its opposition research and tracking service, America Rising Squared—known as AR2.

Republican Activists

Definers Public Affairs was founded and launched in 2015 by America Rising founders Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder.

Pounder is a Republican strategist and former research director for the Republican National Committee and worked on Marco Rubio's failed 2016 nomination campaign. Rhoades was Mitt Romney's campaign manager in 2012.

Green Attack Plan

America Rising ran a concerted campaign to attack environmentalists and targeted individuals such as climate campaigner Bill McKibben, who was followed and filmed by the group's trackers.

Others targeted with attack tactics and adverts include billionaire philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer and New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer, whose work has uncovered the influences of petrochemical billionaires and Republican donors Charles and David Koch.

Brian Rogers, an executive director at AR2 and a senior vice president at Definers, said his campaign would "hold Steyer and the Environmentalist Left accountable for their epic hypocrisy and extreme positions which threaten America's future prosperity."

Speaking about the accusations leveled at him, Steyer said, "They have to know they're lying. It's completely dishonest, unethical, and pitiful. And it's creepy."

America Rising attempted to discredit Mayer by alleging a distant relative that worked for Lehmann Brothers once did business with Nazi Germany—an accusation that was shown to be without any evidence.

One of the group's earliest targets was 350.org founder McKibben, who wrote about his experience in the New York Times. Describing the photos and videos taken of him, McKibben wrote:

"In one series, my groceries are being packed into plastic bags, as I'd forgotten to bring cloth ones. In other shots, I am getting in and out of … cars. There are video snippets of me giving talks, or standing on the street. Sometimes I see the cameraman, sometimes I don't. The images are often posted to Twitter, reminders that I'm being watched."

America Rising also sent an operative to Texas Tech University to request copies of everything in the 54 boxes that make up an archive of McKibben's papers. This, said McKibben, "resulted in all kinds of odd things appearing on right-wing corners of the web."

Global War Room

An EPA spokesperson told Mother Jones the Definers contract was "for media monitoring/newsclip compilation."

According to Mother Jones, the contract would include EPA using the Definers War Room console that helps clients track media coverage and the output of opponents.

In November 2017, it was announced that Definers had joined law firm Denton's to launch a global research firm called 3D Global Affairs.

Among the services offered at 3D Global Affairs would be "governmental relations and lobbying support to shape the environment" and "communications and rapid response professionals to direct the narrative."

Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.

A seagull flies in front of the Rampion offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. Neil / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Frank La Sorte and Kyle Horton

Millions of birds travel between their breeding and wintering grounds during spring and autumn migration, creating one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. These journeys often span incredible distances. For example, the Blackpoll warbler, which weighs less than half an ounce, may travel up to 1,500 miles between its nesting grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Maillefer / Unsplash

By Lynne Peeples

Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

Read More Show Less
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less