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. C'mon

    thanks for yet another reason to not trust the GOP

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  2. Al

    With classless tactics like that, no wonder i am independent. I say in November we vote all of them out, just have a grand house cleaning, and start all over.

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    What crap...cant win on principle, so lets lie

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  4. Richard

    I guess this isn't as bad as Democrats in northern Indiana registering dead people to vote for Obama in the last election.
    Or maybe it is?

    Voter Beware is right, CNN.

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. Redflor

    To anyone who reads the websites, its obviously satire and not trying to trick democrats into believing its the real website.

    Seriously. Visit it yourself and see.

    Still not convinced? Then have a 1000 comment fight in the comments section.

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Fed Up With The Fed

    And the death spiral of the GOP continues into its final stages

    February 6, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Pat Riot

    This is what happens when you know you can't win based on merit.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. Sonny

    Yeah...CNN has definitely begun its campaigning for the Democrat Party for mid-term elections.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. penguin

    On a scale of 0 to 10 Republicans score zero on ethics

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  10. ?!?wut?!?

    Does this really surprise anyone? . . . it's just another nail in their coffin among many, many other nails. What a bunch of snakes!

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  11. Charity Hobson

    Sick and twisted! I'm so tired of all the lies and deception. I don't feel that I can trust anyone in our current government system.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  12. egumpher

    More conservative bashing from ultra-lib news writers......great......lets ignore all the bad liberal moves and bash anything conservative... ...
    Rgds

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. sammy750

    This is currently happening in all the states. The Conservatives continue there dirty tricks.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. disgusted

    The lows just got lower. Another reason to hate the GOP.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. swatguy

    Clever, requiring dems to actually read before doing....

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  16. Jeremy

    I don't see what the problem is. The Dem's fight to allow anyone to vote even if they do not have an ID or want to vote multiple times. One of these tactics is completely dishonest; the other just requires reading a few sentences. Yep, you guessed it. The Dem tactic is the dishonest one.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  17. Donnie the Lion

    Classy.....not.

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

    Can't win on their own principles....so they resort to blatant lies and proud of it...what dbags

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  19. Kita

    So we've now hit the point in election politics where disinformation and deception is not only a thing, but the architects of it are openly PROUD of such actions?

    Ew.

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Wow. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but.. wow.

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. TLORop

    How is this legal?

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. IndependenVoterAonymous

    Why are these parties in power again? The government needs to be fired.

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  23. Reasonable Descent

    Where has the integrity of the GOP gone?

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. Steve Fielder

    Nope, the Republican Party isn't trying to screw around with the integrity of our electoral process – not at all....

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. Brad

    What a third class way?

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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