Via this petition to the IRS, C. Boyden Gray, White House counsel in the first Bush administration, alleges that a nonprofit watchdog of the conservative media, Media Matters for America, has engaged in a “pattern of unlawful conduct.” The outfit, he argues, has taken on a partisan mission and should no longer be entited to its tax-exempt status.

When asked on Fox News about this “unlawful conduct,” Gray appeared to distance himself from his own document: “It’s not unlawful. It’s just not charitable. They’re free to do what they want to do with non-tax-free money but I don’t think they can have the government subsidize what they’re doing and that’s what the letter challenges.”

In carrying out its stated mission of policing right-wing outlets, Media Matters works nearly around the clock monitoring the work of Fox News. During his interview with Fox, Gray went out of his way to dismiss any notion of a conflict of interest: “I’ve never been paid by this network but I admire what it does,” he said.

A 2005 Washington Post article quoted a Fox News spokesperson as saying that Gray is “a contributor. We pay contributors for strong opinions.” Another Fox spokesperson confirmed Gray’s contributorship, but noted that it lasted only five months back in 2005.

The Gray petition attacks Media Matters for allegedly seeking to “disrupt” the commercial interests of News Corp., Fox’s parent company, and for allegedly targeting “Fox News because of its alleged support for the Republican Party — and it often attacks the Republican Party directly.”

Media Matters Executive Vice President Ari Rabin-Havt scoffs at the petition: “C. Boyden Gray is Koch-affiliated, former Fox News contributor whose flights of fancy have already been discredited by actual experts in tax law.”