EPA Hires Right-Wing Media Firm Linked to Oil Industry, Anti-Muslim Group

WASHINGTON – For its annual report, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a right-wing digital media firm that has worked for the oil and gas industry and an anti-Muslim group.

The EPA paid Go Big Media Inc. $6,500 to help produce the agency’s 2017 end-of-the-year report, according to a contract EWG unearthed yesterday in a federal database and confirmed by a report today in E&E News. Funding is coming from the office of Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Elliot Fuchs, the financial controller for the firm told E&E News that "the work's done, and we got paid pretty quickly."

The firm, with offices in Florida and Washington, D.C., appears to mostly work for Republican politicians and campaign committees, including former Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, who is now Interior secretary. Its CEO and founder, Philip Stutts, appears frequently as a pro-Trump commentator on Fox News and other cable news channels. The company’s website doesn’t cite any previous work producing annual reports for government agencies or corporations.

Other Go Big Media clients raise troubling questions about the EPA’s choice:

  • “Ironic,” a video for the Western Energy Alliance, a lobby group for the oil and gas industry, mocks anti-fracking activists. It says fossil fuels “make our world healthier, cleaner and a better place to live.”

  • “Daisy 2,”  a video for Secure America Now, incites fear over the specter of a nuclear attack by “the jihadist government of Iran.” It intentionally echoes the infamous 1964 attack ad the campaign of President Lyndon B. Johnson ran against candidate Barry Goldwater. Bloomberg reported in October that during the 2016 election, Facebook and Google helped Secure America Now place ads in swing states that invoked the idea France and Germany are overrun by Sharia law.

  • “NRA,” a campaign spot for former Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange, shows Strange firing a handgun to shoot down President Obama’s “Amnesty Plan,” “Attack on Religious Liberties” and “Assault on the 2nd Amendment.”

“In a normal world, it would seem odd for the EPA to outsource its annual report to a group that uses outrageous rhetoric and images to mock environmental activists, stoke fear of Muslims and stir up anger against a former president,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “But this is Scott Pruitt’s EPA in action: partnering with polluters, waging political attacks that have nothing to do with protecting public health or the environment, and giving taxpayers’ money to right-wing groups – whether or not they’re qualified to do the job.”

In December, Mother Jones broke a similar story of Pruitt hiring a right-wing opposition research firm to monitor media coverage of the agency. After criticism mounted over the $120,000 contract to Definers Corp., the EPA rescinded the contract.

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