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. John Gault

    BWAHAHAHA – the democrats are furious that they didn't think of this first.

    To the Democrat congressman who said, "I have seen a lot of unfortunate uses of deception in the last few elections,” – well I guess it didn't bother you one teensy bit when it was your side doing it.

    February 6, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. NKBL

    Sad to think that people use deception to win votes and it will probably work the "igorent" in our society.

    February 6, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. JK

    If ya can't beat 'em, lie, cheat, and steal.

    February 6, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. TKO

    This is so typical of the GOP! Got my first taste of this in High School some forty-five years ago. We had a Young Dem and a Young GOPer come in to talk to us. The GOPer took over the mike immediately and simply talked until there was no time left. No amount of interruption or trying to appeal to basic fairness worked. As far as the republican guy was concerned (and he smirked the whole time) anything was fair and just in the political realm. Nothing in my experiences since then has caused me to see them any differently.

    February 6, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. Schlomo Goldstein

    Why is everything the media posts just bait to put the two ideologies together. My guess is the author of this article had nothing to write about so they wanted to stir up emotions by polarizing the nation even more. Our country is in a state of need, and that need is for one side to work with each other. Articles like this are counterproductive.

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

    I am absolutely outraged. If the republicans cannot win elections honestly, they try it with a shameless fraud and are even proud of that. The perpetrators of those websites should be prosecuted for vote fraud. I will never vote again for any republican!

    February 6, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. mistamista

    Now that is some dirty BS. How hard is it to win a fair fight based on your ideas and convictions? If these folks aren't very, very careful, they could be the death of their own political party!

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

    This has got to be a joke right? I mean really? I hope this is a joke. I really really do. Otherwise it shows the pure desperation of the GOP

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. Another Voice

    Once upon a time, the Republican party encouraged people to join by claiming to take the high road and standing with integrity. This is truly sad.

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. Larry B.

    This is flat out not right. Let the people make their choice. This is a America – not Russia. Or has the GOP hierarchy forgotten? Or did they ever know? It's obviously a Koch Bros. production here. Seems to me they're afraid of what'll happen if the people think for themselves and vote the GOP out of office into oblivion where they belong. Sad times that the GOP feels they need to act this way. How irresponsible and deceptive!

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  11. gdawg

    Oh please... not more disgusting games. It doesn't matter which side is pulling this cr@p, it's disgusting. And then to read that someone thinks that it's "genius" and that they are really proud. Deception... your name is politics.

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. CST

    So, our leaders approve of deceiving the very people they portend to represent?

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. ari

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

    lmao, they sound like stooges for some petty third-world dictator. what a bunch of losers.

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. Jerry

    If you reading this welcome to the face of the usa communist party

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Rise

    GOP got nothing on O's NSA.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. wxqz

    It gives a window into how the plan to lead the country when they gain office.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  17. mark ducharme

    maybe deceptive how they get you there. But completely honest in their message and saying they are the GOP. more than the current president can do in the honesty department

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. Scott

    Considering the DNC regularly raises they dead by having them vote; and regularly conducts shenanigans like bankrolling a false flag "Libertarian" in VA's recent Gubernatorial race, I don't really care about what the GOP allegedly did.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  19. Roy

    Why bother voting it's a hugh waste of time considering how corrupt and dishonest politicans are.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. Jon

    Sounds like DESPERATION. Typical of the party of Nixon and his dirty tricks.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. Don

    Is this a joke? CNN, you have gone too far. You are not a member of the democratic team. You are a news outlet, and as such, your job is to report the news, not to make it. This is tabloid journalism.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Stewman

    Whoever created this scam needs to be put in jail.

    February 6, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  23. ditdahdit

    "...pure genius." Rather like the Sherlock Holmes nemesis Moriarty brand of 'genius'.

    February 6, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  24. Scott

    Maybe it was the same company that created the Obamacare website and this is just a glitch? lol

    February 6, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. Kel

    Can't win an election on policy? Just deceive and lie to the public to garner votes.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    February 6, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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