Conservative nonprofit seeks to oust IRS official

Lois Lerner subject of American Future Fund's new online petition

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The American Future Fund, a Republican-aligned “social welfare” nonprofit, is circulating a petition to “fire Lois Lerner,” the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the ongoing political storm about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“Did you see IRS official Lois Lerner’s stunning and insulting actions before a Congressional committee yesterday where she made a personal statement of innocence, then plead the Fifth and left?” American Future Fund founder Nick Ryan wrote in an email to supporters Friday obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

“Does it leave you seeing red that Ms. Lerner refused to fully and honestly answer questions before the Committee about who knew what and when?” Ryan continued. “Then let’s do something about it.”

The American Future Fund itself has frequently been singled out by campaign finance reform groups, who have accused the nonprofit of masquerading under Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code when it ought to be registered as a political committee — and subject to donor disclosure rules.

During the 2012 election season, the American Future Fund spent more than $29 million on political advertisements, as the Center for Public Integrity previously reported.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, it is allowed to make election-related expenditures, so long as politics are not its “primary” purpose.

Little is known about the donors to the American Future Fund. Between 2009 and 2011, 51 percent of the money the group raised came from another nonprofit — the Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights, which has no website and lists its address in government filings as a post office box in Phoenix.

The American Future Fund was awarded tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) in October 2008, IRS records show.

Lerner, the director of the IRS exempt division, was put on administrative leave from the IRS on Thursday.