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. kenmac8

    I think every last politician currently in office (regardless of party) should be fired. It has been a long time since any politicians have worked for the people. They work for the highest bidder, which usually end up being companies like Monsanto, or some Pharmaceutical company. We should start completely over. No party is innocent here.

    February 6, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. Scott

    Such sleazebags, especially Daniel Scarpinato. This is why the GOP is on the wrong side of history and is caught up so desperately in a losing battle.

    February 6, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. flowersunshineandgymsocks

    It makes perfect sense as many Republicans are fake human beings.

    February 6, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. ReformedRepugnican

    The Repugnican party knows it can't win elections honestly, so it feels the need to resort to this kind of deception...it's a lame, sad obituary for a once proud party.

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  5. Hillary 2016

    --> Typical Republicans! ...They're getting really desparate now!

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Rusty

    "Cleverer?"

    Well, luckily I am clevererer than these politicians. I know they are all liarers and thieverers.

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. Kevin

    This makes me want to learn more about the great Senator, Mr. Santorum.

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Brandon

    I'm a Democrat and I say fair play to them on this. Those (D) candidates need to scoop up those URLs before they get turned against them.

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. sayingit

    That's messed up. Why make Americans distrust politicians even more?

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Fred

    Thats nothing, they outright stole the last two primaries..

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. oceanblue

    Is American democracy so far gone now that fake websites mimicking real ones are considered just a brilliant political tactic? Why is this being shrugged at, rather than being prosecuted as FRAUD?

    February 6, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  12. Adam

    Gerrymandering, redistricting, voter repression, hiring hackers to take down the health care website. Holding the government hostage over the debt ceiling. They're evil.

    February 6, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Name

    Fake? The only thing 'bad' about the sites is the use of outdated SEO tactics.

    February 6, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Paul

    Wow, is nothing sacred anymore?
    You know things are bad when a political party actually has the audacity to brag about being dirty and under-handed...
    Shameful.

    February 6, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Bill Smells

    Do Democrats do it, too?

    Of course they do! Their leader, Obama, is the liar in chief, so it's safe to say that Democrats are masters of the "bait and switch". Just look at most of the legislation this administration has put forth.

    February 6, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. independant jim

    Honest republicans cant make it on their record so they will make use of anything to make their opponents record look bad

    February 6, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Sarcastro

    Pure genius.

    When you're out of ideas simply use internet tricks to deceive voters.

    Better yet- if you can't get enough votes yourself, why not stop the opposition from being able to vote? (Oh wait, already doing that).

    February 6, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Introbulus

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

    Which does not actually say "It's not deceiving", because it is.

    February 6, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  19. palusko996769

    Looks like Koch brothers are hard at work.

    February 6, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. Ray

    The GOP is embarrassing and pathetix.

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Clement Arbruster Bodog Castlenut, Jr.

    Yet another "well thought out" move from the GOP that will blow up in their faces.

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. Phil in Canada

    NRCC – proud of fraud.....You guys feed off the bottom of the tank don't you...*L0L*

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. David

    This is how the GOP has to get votes and money- through lies and gimmicks. As if anyone needs more reasons not to vote for these clowns.

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. yogi

    The GOP cannot win just by votes alone, they always add meanness to the process, it is second nature to them.

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. Deeder42

    My first thought is this is a fraud being foisted upon the voters. We prosecute fraud, hopefully to the fullest extent of the law. It is not just selling a product, but selling a political candidate and the voters have an absolute right to be told the truth. If you cannot do that do not expect my vote.

    February 6, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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