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. S-Hug

    This should not be any surprise to anyone. Republicans will do anything to win an election — like rig electronic voting machines.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. No one

    It varies from state to state, but phishing through web sites is illegal and can bring lawsuits upon the person involved.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Jason

    Wow, if the Repubs are so scared even with the crappy roll out of Obamacare and the other stuff bogging the Dems to do stuff like this, you know they pretty much suck at sucking.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. Kris

    Voter Fraud.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. mennoknight

    Sorry, but this is just so dirty.
    I was a long term Republican but I chose not to vote during Bush's second term, I voted (ugg) for Obama first term and didn't vote second term!
    If they want to win people like myself back as a centrist Republican it is not with crap like this.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. Randy Worley

    So Republicans are relying on a strategy to deceive American voters? Weird. That never happens.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  7. oh really

    Please, RNC. Grow up and be adult about things. No wonder people are leaving you in droves.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Hard working retired vet and true American

    At least the NRCC is honest about there strategy unlike the DCCC, and it also helps the voter get the whole story and not just the fluff that liberal want you to know.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. PortlandObserver

    Add lies and trickery to a list that includes gerrymandering, voter intimidation, ridiculous requirements to even vote at all, making polling places inaccessible to minorities, and demonizing education.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  10. floored

    I am squarely a middle-of-the-road voter. I like philosophies of each part and vote for whom I think will do the beat job (pro-choice and pro-second amendment, if you need to know). This tactic is beyond deceitful! It is shameful!!! There is no the to be proud of and it is not "genius". What have we become?

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. nothing to see here move along.

    It's fair play, both parties do it with ads, and many other aspects on campaigning, this is just the web form. Last round of Voter ID fraud was closer in line with tricking voters than this.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Joe M.

    Based on what the websites look like, it's pretty clear from the second you get to the page that it's an anti-page for the candidate. Not exactly front-page worthy deception.

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. AaronfromKY

    This would never be a story if they used the mainstream media websites, CNN and the like wouldn't like the light shown on themselves and their other Democrat lapdog news organizations!

    February 6, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. Wildfawn

    Seriously? They're admitting they can only get votes if they trick people?

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  15. captcaps

    It is trash like this that has lowered the low low standard of truth and honesty in the Republican Tea Bagger Party The trouble with the republican way , a theif will steal your money and a liar steals your trust, Can't trust either....Republicans will loose much more than they will gain by these Liars.....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Realism

    Like we need another reason not to vote for Republicans.

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. Abe Vigoda

    Know whom you are voting for...period.

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. doug

    If you can't win on your ideas you try anything.

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. belinda

    We didn't think the GOP could stoop any lower than Political retribution and now this ? Are they kidding ? Rand paul, the well known plagiarist Senator, must have thought this one up . Lying, cheating, using tax payer money for political purposes, what else ? Oh, they'll come up with something. I smell desperation and it stinks.

    February 6, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. Joe Bloe

    Deceptive, disgusting....and desperate. The last word sums up the GOP these days.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. James Malenfant

    This is just dishonest. And, the Tpublicans are proud of this? What a bunch of liars. Have a great day!

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. floored

    Sorry for the typos...auto-correct over-corrected.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  23. burbanktj

    You know what they say..."If you can't beat them, pretend to join them and attempt to make them look bad"

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. jm

    The GOP is evil.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. LeglizHemp

    Really? I mean....Really? Far Out. This should instill Trust back into the GOP. Amazing.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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