February 6th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
4 years ago

National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters

(CNN) - A warning this election season: If you are searching the Web for information on Democratic congressional candidates, read the fine print.

At least 15 websites that appear to be official campaign sites for Democratic candidates, are actually the handiwork of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In an effort to improve their online efforts this election season, the NRCC’s digital team came up with what the group believes is a great idea: get out the Republican message through fake Democrat sites.

“The idea is people who are looking for information on the candidate, one of the places we all go now is online and so this is a way for folks to find out more about the candidates and information they may not find on the candidate’s own site,” said Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary.

The NRCC bought up hundreds of URLs on potential weak Democratic candidates and created sites that mimic the real ones.

It may sound deceiving, but Scarpinato insists the well-thought out, well-planned program is pure genius.

”Well, we are very proud of this program.”

Montana Democratic congressional candidate John Lewis has a different opinion.

Lewis is one of the Democrats who Republicans have targeted with their own site called JohnLewis4congress.com.

”I have seen a lot of unfortunate uses of deception in the last few elections,” Lewis told CNN. “This is just another in a long list of that.”

Lewis said Montana voters will be able to “see right through a website that is based on deception.” Still he bemoans what he calls outside interests backed by “dark money” trying to trick voters in his state.

Scarpinato at the NRCC says there are no tricks at all and disputes anyone’s claim that the sites are deceptive.

“I think that sites are clear in terms of the disclosure and the content where were coming from,” Scarpinato said. “And I also think it’s important for voters to get all the perspectives on the candidates. So just as a candidate is going to put information out about themselves, we’re going to put out information about the candidate that they are not putting out that we think is important for voters to know.”

And to do that, the National Republican Congressional Campaign says it will expand its building of fake sites.

Do Democrats do it, too?

The NRCC press secretary told us the Republican strategy is cleverer, but that Democrats have done the same thing.

One day after CNN’s interview Scarpinato directed CNN to a site mocking a Republican built by the Florida State Democratic Party, which the national Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee insists it had nothing to do with.

In a statement to CNN, the DCCC wrote, “It is not the DCCC’s practice to make websites that could be confused with the opponents site.”

Undeterred, the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks it has a winner and will create more fake websites as the 2014 midterm elections draw near.


Filed under: DCCC • NRCC
soundoff (1,426 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters"

    Yeah, "LURE" THEM INTO ACCIDENTALLY DONATING TO THE WRONG CAMPAIGN. It's borderline fraudulent and should have the FEC and DOJ up their tails immediately. This isn't just about faking people out in to going to a website that then tells them all about the other candidate. This is about TRICKING people into donating to the wrong person. It's disgusting.

    February 6, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. ChrisM

    Surprise, Surprise. Repubs being out right deceptive .

    February 6, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. foxghostwriter

    Wow. See what happens when you put technology to "good" use? Imagine what will happen when they figure out how to work the Twitter tweet thingy.....

    February 6, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. Mark Wynn

    Goodness, the Democrat Party has been doing this for a decade. Today, google for a Republican candidate or elected official and you'll find at least one site, but usually several, that are actually Democrat sites putting out negative propaganda on the Republican. Go ahead, try it.

    February 6, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    If you can't win on the issues and by playing fair, play dirty, cheat and distract.

    How's all that voter suppression workin' out for ya, GOPers/Teatrolls? This fits right under that rubric as well: confused voters who are angry about being duped by these web sites are going to be less likely to want to participate in the political process. Nothing makes the GOPers/Teatrolls more happy than the idea of getting voters to drop out of participating in their own governance because they're so disillusioned with it. It's why they run around screaming that government is broken and then go about breaking it as much as possible whenever they're elected.

    February 6, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. carlos

    I wonder if Fox will report on this.

    February 6, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    It's the only thing they have left. Deception. Gerrymandering, voter suppression and now this. Simply pathetic.

    February 6, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. encie

    desperation makes one do many crazy things

    February 6, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Each day republicans prove they are a lower life form.

    February 6, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  10. xray vision

    Now that they know the success the dems have online, so they polluted that too. Please vote this trash out! It takes a certain kind of mentality to accept this behavior from your party and still vote for, them

    February 6, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. xray vision

    Their very future is dependent on deception

    February 6, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    That seems to be the GOP, learning the dirty tricks used by the Dems.

    Politics didn't get the reputation for the dirtiest of occupations, for no reason.

    February 6, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Simplefaith

    The Republicans are up to no good again. It is unethical to make fake Democratic websites. They don't have a leading candidate for President and now their thinking of ways to fool the voters. What a bunch of crooks.

    February 6, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. box211

    Scarpinato must be very used to sleazy behavior if he thinks there is nothing wrong with this agenda. This is one of the most disgraceful things I have ever heard of a political party doing. It will surely not win friends for the Republicans and they should make this fellow stop this nonsense before he drives more people away. He looked like an idiot on TV and the entire scenario seems incredibly childish. It is hard to believe that one of our political parties would have actually sunk this low.

    February 6, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. xray vision

    There is no bottom for them is there?

    February 6, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. xray vision

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, ..... when you rely on deceit to win, sooner or later the veil comes off . This is disgusting

    February 6, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. dante delk

    Hey, if you can't win with an honest, hard working, dynamic candidate, win by sabotage and deceit. And, they're proud of this strategy, no less. What a Grand old Party!

    February 6, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Jim

    I honestly thought that the GOP couldn't get any sleazier. I was wrong!

    February 6, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. Colin Morgan

    This is low, even for them.

    February 6, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  20. won

    You see.. just like Bush rigged the election in Florida. GOP cannot be TRUSTED! Democrats cannot be trusted either.. do not vote!

    February 6, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. Luis

    Sad, sad, sad , sad , sad

    February 6, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. rosaadriana

    OMG seriously? how low can these people go?

    February 6, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. American

    Once again, the crux of Republicans' winning strategy involves outright FRAUD!

    February 6, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. Deathstalker74

    GOP finally taking the gloves off. About time.

    February 6, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. CaesarXIII

    Voter beware, both parties have been stickin' it to you for decades. Keep voting the lunatics back into office, the entertainment is amusing.

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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