We monitor the near-IR (NIR) flux and linear polarization of a number of $gamma$-ray bright blazars along with photometric and polarimetric observations at UV and optical wavelengths to search for evidence of a dusty torus. The dusty torus surrounding the central engine of a blazar at a radius $R$ ~$sim 1-10$ pc can supply the seed photons necessary for inverse Compton (IC) scattering by relativistic electrons to GeV energies to explain the high $gamma$-ray flux from these objects.

We construct and analyze the spectral energy distribution (SED) and dependence of degree of polarization on wavelength, $P(lambda)$, of the blazars. The thermal emission from the torus should manifest itself in the SED and $P(lambda)$ by altering the spectral index in the NIR and by a reduction in NIR polarization due to the non-polarized thermal component adding to the synchrotron radiation. In addition, multi-epoch and multi-wavelength observations allow a deconstruction of the SED into variable and constant components.

The constant or very slowly changing component at IR wavelengths will provide at least an upper limit on the amount of thermal emission present. Analysis of the variable spectrum can also determine whether the dust emission varies as the level of emission from the accretion disk changes. We present preliminary results from the first year of a two year project to explore these mechanisms. This research is supported in part by NASA {it Fermi} Guest Investigator grants NNX11AO40G and NNX11AO37G.