Lerner was appointed head of the FEC’s enforcement division in 1986 and stayed in that position until 2001. In the late 1990s, the FEC launched an onerous investigation of the Christian Coalition, ultimately costing the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in lost work. The investigation was notable because the FEC alleged that the Christian Coalition was coordinating issue advocacy expenditures with a number of candidates for office. Aside from lacking proof this was happening, it was an open question whether the FEC had the authority to bring these charges…

The Christian Coalition was ultimately absolved of any FEC wrongdoing in 1999, and Lerner was promoted to acting General Counsel at the FEC in 2001 before eventually moving on to the IRS. Bopp, who’s all too familiar with the aggressive and innappropriate tenor she set leading the FEC’s Enforcement Division, says he became concerned about what would happen as soon as Lerner joined the IRS. “When she left the FEC, I thought, ‘Wow, this means the not for profit division is gearing up politically,'” he said. “It didn’t bode well, because of the way [the FEC] approached cases.”