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. davesfortruth

    The people who support this feel that cheating is necessary and justified at this point.

    February 6, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. eqgold

    More of the same playbook. Voter suppression, misdirection, misinformation, oh yeah, garden variety lying. Why you have no ethics, no moral compass, and the only goal is winning, what's the problem.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Mick

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

    I'm going with "Deceiving". No..."Evil". No, wait "Slimy". Yes, "Slimy"!

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Stay classy NRCC. And using their great idea outlined, I obviously mean DCCC when I say NRCC. Only a dolt would mistake me saying NRCC for actually meaning NRCC in the context that classy is not a platform they would run on...

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  5. Craig

    So that's how they been winning all those elections with fraudulent donations and websites.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    This is the ultimate in pathetic.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. KR

    LOL, so this is the best the GOP can come up with to score votes – trickery & deceit tactics, because they have nothing else to offer!

    R.I.P. GOP...

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. davesfortruth

    The people who support this feel it is necessary and justified at this point.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Clyde Farris

    Republicans trying to trick us by using websites counterfeited to look like Democratic websites... Why should we be surprised? They've been tricking us for years: Iraq has WMDs; Iraq oil will pay for the war; Hanging chads in Florida; Trickle down economics will make it to the middle class and poor; Reducing the tax rate on the wealthy will create jobs for the rest of us; Money and freedom of speech are the same thing, thus giving us Citizens United and unbridled money from anonymous sources in politics; Voters must have picture IDs to protect us from voter fraud, etc. The fraud is being committed by the Republican party, and we're their victims.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. jenn,philadelphia

    where's the deception? they direct you to a site and tell you why he isn't good for you. if they told you he was wonderful and donate here, but sent the money to his opposition that's deception.

    February 6, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. NameA Lifetime of Hard Work

    Yet another example of deliberate un-American deceipt on the part of the Republican party (like voter supression).
    They can't prevail via their anti-middle class agenda... so they cheat

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Bing

    Liars, cheaters, decievers, frauds. The modern, moral Republican "leaders" of America.

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Joro

    Wow. That's literally idiotic. I'm sure the backlash will greatly outweigh any potential benefits of such devious trickery.

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Blake Thornhill

    Only in America..

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. Fool me thrice??

    Honorable politician is an oxymoron.

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Greenspam

    Republicans can now claim they can put up fake sites better than Obamacare can!

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. Jon

    Yay! Politics!

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. Karan

    Daniel Scarpinato, are you for real. Holy smoke, I am no republican or democrat. But something tells me that you're going to get fired pretty soon. Because someone in GOP is going to stand for ethics. Don't stoop so low.

    February 6, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. Harry

    "..get out the Republican message through fake Democrat sites."
    ____________________________________
    Wouldn't that have the exact opposite effect? The only message they would be getting out is that the GOP is an underhanded bunch sheisters.

    February 6, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. Engine87a

    GOP ... looks for a way to get into the gutter and then gets a shovel and digs deeper.

    February 6, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Han

    At least the fake Republican site made by the Florida State Democratic Party doesn't ask donations like the fake Democrat sites do.

    February 6, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. Not suprising

    If you are supposed by this then you are a Republican who has been wearing the blinders for years.

    February 6, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. GIUK

    lol The GOP really has lost what few marbles they had left. lol

    February 6, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Anyone surprised?

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Criminals! just plain Criminals ...telling us they're the good guys!!! CRIMINALS.

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
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