*Andrew Breitbart, the conservative Internet publisher and author, has died.  He was 43.

In 2010, Breitbart famously posted deceptively edited tapes that led to the dismissal of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod over racism claims. He tried to suggest that Sherrod was racist and had discriminated against a white farmer.

A statement posted on his website said that Breitbart died “unexpectedly from natural causes” this morning.

The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office confirmed to ABC News Radio that Breitbart died shortly after midnight at UCLA Medical Center.

The following statement was posted on Breitbart’s website today:

“With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart. We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior. Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”

The Sherrod story broke on July 19, 2010, when Breitbart posted selectively edited tapes of a speech she had given at an NAACP dinner. Breitbart spun it to insist Sherrod was a racist, when in fact the tale she told encouraged people not to discriminate on the basis of race.

The next day, speaking with conservative radio host Dana Loesch (who worked for Breitbart), he attacked Sherrod again, portraying her as a racist. Those attacks eventually became the basis of Sherrod’s defamation lawsuit against Breitbart.

Speaking with Loesch, Breitbart claimed Sherrod had “said racial things” on the tape, was “talking in racial terms,” and that “she was skeptical of white people.” He also accused her of seeing “things through a racial prism.” Breitbart also emphasized that in her NAACP address, Sherrod “was speaking in the present tense,” which was not true. The story she told about a white farmer was two decades old.