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James Comer Invites Conflicted Witnesses to Hearing on “Woke Litigation”

Sep 13, 2023

As House Republicans return from August recess this week, instead of focusing on an impending deadline for funding the government and the top priorities of everyday Americans James Comer and Oversight Republicans are holding a baseless and hypocritical hearing on lawsuits they don’t agree with. Comer is doing industry’s bidding by tapping three conflicted industry insiders (including one revolving door lobbyist) to serve as experts and testify at the hearing. These so-called experts represent industries like oil, gas, mining, and medtech that have been held to account by class-action lawsuits funded by third parties.

Republican hypocrisy is on full display. Republicans have turned a blind eye to the corruption that’s rotting our courts from the inside out.  Bombshell reporting on Leonard Leo’s efforts to influence and corrupt the Supreme Court along with proof of Clarence Thomas’s and Samuel Alito’s corrupt acts on the Court have gone completely unanswered from James Comer. Between a bogus, evidence-free impeachment inquiry and stunt filled hearings, it is clear that House Republicans are just engaged in one partisan game after another instead of real governance addressing the top issues facing our country. 


Erik Milito is a “revolving door” lobbyist and oil & gas industry insider working as president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA). Milito has served as president of the NOIA since November 2019, and spent 17 years shilling for the industry at the American Petroleum Institute (API) after spending two years working at the Department of the Interior.

  • Milito Is A Seasoned Oil & Gas Industry Lobbyist Laser-Focused On Protecting Profits. According to his own bio: “Milito has extensive experience in implementing strategic outreach and public relations platforms for high profile issues on behalf of the energy industry. He is a spokesperson and lobbyist for the industry, testifying before Congress and appearing on major news outlets on key energy issues on numerous occasions.” Milito prioritizes industry interests above all else – his organization has even fiercely opposed protecting whales in favor of continuous drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Milito Has Spent Over Two Decades Lobbying For An Industry That Risks Increased Exposure To Lawsuits Financed By Third Parties. Milito has extensive lobbying experience in Congress and, as a former executive branch employee, is considered a “revolving door” lobbyist. He has a single-minded interest in protecting oil and gas industry profits – and there’s a good reason why Milito is opposed to third-party litigation funding. The oil and gas industry has a history of steamrolling vulnerable communities with limited resources and little chance of suing for just compensation. Third-party funding has great potential to level the playing field, and large oil companies like Chevron have faced lengthy lawsuits over environmental contamination in recent years with third-party financing. Just last month, Milito’s organization (which recently hosted a symposium sponsored by Chevron) released a statement opposing third-party litigation financing, writing, “these ‘sue and settle’ or ‘regulation by litigation’ arrangements serve to do nothing more than stifle domestic oil and gas production.” 
  • The National Ocean Industries Association Is A Longtime GOP Donor. The NOIA is a longtime GOP donor that has donated exclusively to Republican PACs since Milito became president of the NOIA, and the vast majority of campaign contributions have gone to Republican federal candidates. The group has also donated to two Oversight committee Republicans over the years: Reps. Pete Sessions (R-TX; 2020, 2014) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ; 2014, 2012). 
  • Milito Is A Repeat GOP Witness. This is not the first, second, or even third time Milito has appeared on Capitol Hill to testify at the behest of Congressional Republicans. In November 2011, he testified to the GOP-led House Natural Resources Committee in his role representing the interests of over 480 oil and natural gas companies involved in upstream and industry operations. In December 2015, Milito testified to the GOP-led Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production. Just two months ago, he served as a witness once again for the GOP-led House Natural Resources Committee. 
  • MAGA ESG Hypocrisy: In Stark Contrast to the House GOP’s Near-Constant Hammering Against ESG Practices, Milito Has Worked To Develop ESG Programs and Networks Within His Industry. Comer has spent the summer harping against responsible investing, holding a series of hearings targeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Yet Milito’s LinkedIn profile boasts of “Significant experience in developing sustainability and ESG programs, including the Center for Offshore Safety, the Environmental Partnership, and the NOIA ESG Network.”

Aviva Wein is a medtech and pharmaceutical industry insider currently serving as assistant general counsel at Johnson & Johnson.

  • Wein Represents The Second-Largest Company In An Industry Greatly Impacted By Litigation Funded By Third Parties. As assistant general counsel of Johnson & Johnson’s products liability division, Wein has been deeply involved in litigation involving consumers. The company’s medical device division is the second-largest in the country, and Wein has denounced third-party-funded litigation efforts against defective medical devices as a “whack-a-mole” for the industry, and described litigation financing as a “$5 billion industry.” The medical device industry is greatly impacted by litigation financed by third parties, and multidistrict civil lawsuits have grown exponentially in the U.S. 
  • Johnson & Johnson Is A Donor For Several Oversight Committee Republicans. Johnson & Johnson has donated to numerous Oversight committee Republicans over the years, including Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC; 2022), Kelly Armstrong (R-PA; 2020), Pete Sessions (R-TX; 2018, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004), and Jim Jordan (R-OH; 2012)

Julie Lucas is a mining industry insider currently serving as executive director of MiningMinnesota, an advocacy group supporting numerous mining projects in the state that have been held up by litigation.

  • MiningMinnesota Supports Numerous Proposed Projects In The Midst of Legal Battles With Environmental Groups and Government Agencies. Multiple projects that MiningMinnesota supports have been held up by litigation. Just last week, Minnesota mining company Twin Metals lost a bid to revive a Minnesota copper and nickel mine that has been held up in court for years. Last month, after the state Supreme Court declined to approve permitting for another proposed mine, Lucas released a statement calling the ruling “incredibly disappointing.” Similarly, when the Department of the Interior issued a 20-year mining moratorium near the Canadian border at the beginning of 2023, Lucas denounced the decision. 
  • More MAGA ESG Hypocrisy: Contrary to the Anti-ESG House GOP, MiningMinnesota Promotes Itself As A “Sustainable” and “Responsible” Company. MiningMinnesota’s homepage states, “MiningMinnesota is committed to benefiting our communities and advancing a sustainable future through responsible mining, processing, and domestic supply chain utilization of our mineral resources.” It also points to a “renewable future,” and promotes “responsible mineral production” and “responsible development of natural resources.”