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. denis

    lie cheat deceive and steal the core values of the GOP.. they constantly make the case against themselves Greedy
    Obnoxious Pigs

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  2. Michael

    In other words, lie, the American People won't notice.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. trev

    where were you CNN to warn us about the community organizer that was running for president?

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. DerekF

    If people can't figure out that it is not the candidates real website, then they have no business voting. The problem is that most voters look for information through sources that only provide them with a view slanted towards their beliefs. This is a direct result of media bias on both sides.

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

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

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

    VERY proud of it!! You stay classy there GOP!

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

    Now that's slimy.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Jeff

    If I were a Democratic candidate, I would trademark my name. I would then file a claim for cybersquatting against the NRCC under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Ironically, the ACPA was passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Democratic president.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  9. JFish

    I remember when this sort of thing would have launched a Congressional investigation. Now it's business as usual for the Republicans. They're even "proud" of it. Wow.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  10. Brandon

    If you read anything other than just the name on the page, it's clear that donations aren't going to support that candidate. Don't get mad because you didn't bother to read more than the guy's name before you gave them your credit card info.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. Taylor Lang

    If you need to win an election by deception, you are not qualified for the job. Simple right? Well, lets hope voters can see through the fog. This is really a low point in our so called democracy.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. J R Brown

    I don't think it's any less underhanded that the Democrats pretending to be the protectors of the poor and the middle class while allowing the top 5% of the population to make 95% of the money over the last 5 years.
    At least the GOP is honest about representing the wealthy...the Democrats screw the middle class and support the wealthy but they just lie about it.

    Or was it a Republican President that bailed out Wall Street and the auto companies and let the super wealthy elite hoard all the money being made during our current "economic recovery"?

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. Quasi

    I would think that such underhanded robbery is a real jailable and punishable crime. It is gross INTENTIONAL Fraud.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Michael

    In other words, LIE. Surely the American people won't notice a little thing like that.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. Montana

    Damn politicians....OMG can even one of them be honest, forthright and believable. Tired of all their CRAP, both the GOP and DEM and yes even the Tea Party and Coffee Creamers. They are all so full of BS.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. Jim8

    I'll bet those web sites read like TheOnion. They might be pretty funny.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. Laodegan

    You don't have to "read the fine print" on any of these sites. You simply have to read one or two sentences beyond the URL to know what they are about. It's a smart use of the Internet. Democrats are ticked that they didn't think of it first, I guess.

    February 6, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  18. sanity

    Democrats would do the same if they could make websites that actually work.

    February 6, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  19. lysheen

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

    From the party of voter suppression and redistricting, yes, I'm sure you're very proud.

    February 6, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. JustinEiler

    Reason number 541 as to why I am no longer a Republican. If you can't win honestly, you don't deserve to win at all.

    February 6, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  21. Joe Bloe

    I'm actually pretty sick of both sides. Can't we get back to highlighting a candidates strengths rather than beating down the opponent?

    February 6, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Steven

    This is fraud, plain and simple.

    February 6, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. tatangb

    The dark side has come upon us.

    February 6, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  24. Vickie Holbrook

    Should go along nicely with the fake president that we currently have in office. Really CNN?

    February 6, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. lysheen

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

    From the party of voter suppression and redistricting, why am I not surprised?

    February 6, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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