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. ctguy

    Not Deceptive. True to republican Core - Deception.

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. lenojames

    If you can be yourself and win, you deserve to win. If not, you don't.

    It's clear that the GOP knows who the winners are. And they want to look as much like the winners as they can.

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. manhandler1

    Already put in a dam response and come right bask and where is it?

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Vivien

    I think "using fake websites" is a bit misleading. Clearly the text on the page indicates it's very much an anti-candidate site. How stupid would someone have to be to think sites with messages like "Had enough of candidate x?" or "Candidate X has done a horrible job" (along with lots of text detailing why someone should vote against them) are the actual sites of the candidates in question? C'mon people. If you're gonna spend your money, at least take time to read past the name before clicking the donate button.

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. RightyTighty

    Do the Dems really want to start pointing fingers about underhanded techniques?

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

    Fraud, pure and simple.

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

    These repubulicans need to give up already. this is just sad.

    February 6, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  8. jeep146

    Vote everyone out of office. Democrat and Republicans in congress have to go . People are out of work, and instead of working on a plan they shut down the goverment. The goverment stopped working when the moderates were voted out years ago. Vote for a liberal or a conservative and your helping the do nothings stay in office.

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  9. Daniel

    OMG!!!! No hope in this country. Will filled with geniuses for deception... legal frauds... etc.

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  10. athensdallas

    Typical of the scoundrels.

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. DaveinIL

    LOL, LOL. Only a real m0r0n would think that they had reached a real DNC campaign site attacking the candidate it claims to support.
    Of course, being directed to a "site mocking a Republican built by the Florida State Democratic Party" rates only a discrete burial by CNN at the end of the article rather than equal billing in the headline.

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Grin

    This is just sad – if you can't win with the facts, get out of the Race. Being proud of a campaign of lies is crazy – although it does pretty much say "Voter Beware" when it comes to the Republican Party. And by the way, if lying during the campaign is OK, when will your newly elected Politicians start telling the Truth? WMD much?

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  13. Bryan

    Wow, that's quite petty and deceitful. Why're they desperate. By all accounts, they have the edge going into November.

    February 6, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  14. Randy Myers

    And they wonder why many/most Americans think they are out of touch, rely on deception and diversion instead of truth. Honestly, this is the type of thing that makes people distrust politicians, especially the current Republican Party.

    I expect better from our leaders and I will never ever vote for or support anyone who uses lies or deceptive methods to trick the American people.

    Shame on you and shame on the Republican party if you allow this to go on and do not put an end to it immediately.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. somethingstellar

    Just more reason to dump both parties. Neither one of them are any good for the people. Its all about what they can get and how they can stoke the interests of close friends.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. Ken

    Technically, if you lie during the interview, you don't get hired. I would prefer a politician who will value his integrity rather than be controlled by greed for power. Someone who tries to win at any cost is not worth voting for.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. Matt

    ”Well, we are very proud of this program.”
    Of course you are. When you can't run on substance and merit...

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. Mentalcase

    No surprise.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. tmc

    This is not new.. as far back as 4 years ago, these were popping up around 2009-2010 election cycle.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. fallen angel

    "This is a well thought out plan" lies,fraud,impersonation I tought these actions are illegal.Oh I'm sorry it's only illegal or fraudulent or misleading if I or the average citizen do it.No wonder this country is circling the drain.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. sam aryal

    How low can you go?

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. Burbank

    Typical. If they can't win legitimately they stoop to cheating. That's how we ended up with Dubya! This party needs to go bye-bye. They have no moral compass whatsoever and will do anything to be in power. We need leaders, not corrupt dictators.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. IRSmurf

    I find it disgusting that the RNC finds this acceptable. Not only that, but they're boasting about misleading voters. What a bunch of cretins. The GOP has gone insane. They must be in their death throes.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  24. Bill Freidline

    Wow.

    I read that as "we have no solutions, and are pretty sure we can't get your vote unless we find a way to trick you, and lie to you, and obfuscate the facts" So that is EXACTLY what we are going to do, and we're proud of it."

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. Garret

    Wait . . . is this CNN.com or is it a democratic dummy site set up to make me think republicans are intentionally trying to confuse voters with phoney websites. That's just too unbelievable.

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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