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. Jody P

    Wow. Just sad. This is just so depressing. We desperately need campaign reform. NO PACS for anybody. No ads, no robo calls, no mailers unless they are directly from a registered candidate. Political contributions from individuals only and with a cap. A cap on the total that can be spent on a campaign. What a vile waste of money.

    February 6, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Anonymous

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

    That says it all regarding the GOP, deception is their whole game – all they do – they seek out the gullible who will buy into the BS – that is what Jindal meant by the "party of stupid" which was rude, but he meant that they are completely dependent on people buying into all their BS, no matter how outrageous and ridiculous as a way to defeat the democrats.

    But this is not surprising, they already often pose as democrats when blogging.

    The GOP do not even know the difference between right, wrong, or ethical anymore and if they do, they simply don't even care.

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. dkb55

    Fake Democratic Websites, not fake Democrat Websites. Leave the slurs to Fox and the RNC.

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Disgusted!

    This is outrageous! The RNC has adopted a policy of fraud and deceit? Has it no shame? Is this what the Republican party has come to? I thought it was bad, but this is .... I can't think of words to describe the cesspool that is the current thinking of the RNC. I know some good Republicans... is THIS what you stand for?

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. Hotdog

    The Republican party is ruthless to say the least. This seems illegal and it's the kind of thing the the justice department should be looking into. The Republican party are always crying voter ID fraud.

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  6. Cathy Baxter

    I think that is pretty low. To me, it is just another example of how low and deceitful this group of people will go to get what they want. If I was a member of that Party, I would be embarrassed and ashamed that my Party stooped to that level. How can you trust a group when they come out in public about being deceitful and being proud of it? How do you know that they won't turn against you once you voted them in office? Politics....that is what is wrong with this world......

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  7. reason

    GOP cant do things honestly? Have to resort to complete fabrications?
    My shocked face:

    : |

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. tet1953

    Pretty slimey, even for the GOP.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. Brian

    Sad. You can't stand on your own ideas and ideals so you have to try to trick the voters.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. Torsten

    Are you kidding me? This has to be one of the lowliest tactics ever.

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

    What a bunch of sleazes. And these guys wonder why Republicans have sunk so far in the public perception.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. JSS

    You politicians...go away...we don't need you anymore...you are ruining this country...both Dems and GOPs...just leave.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. Kevin

    Republicans have also been sending fake chain emails to each other all the time. I get them from my republican friend and disprove the information in 2 minutes. But these emails have been forward to tons of people all the time. I don't get why they don't look these things up when they are easy to check, but I guess the GOP are blind sheep that don't question things as long as it fits what they want to believe.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  14. Mr. Patton

    Deception? No way! Not from the wholesome conservative RNC...

    If you can't win the voter, deceive them. I am sure it is part of their party platform.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. dalene44

    Democrats are noted for accusing others of what they are guilty of themselves. Sounds like the National Democratic Congressional Committee is up to no good.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. ladeeda

    Not a surprise, the GOP are nothing more than a BS factory.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. PS

    The GOP should ashamed of themselves. This is disgusting. How desperate do you have to be to be trying to trick people. How about convincing them that your ideas are worthwhile. Guess not.

    February 6, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. FW

    It's "Democratic websites," not "Democrat websites." Similarly, it would be accurate to say Democratic Party websites, but not Democrat Party, since that is not the proper name.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. Charlie C.

    In a way, it's a clever way to get a message out. But it's also very risky because something like this could just as easily backfire and make the candidate you're trying to help look like a crook or liar in the eyes of undecided voters–especially people who aren't really that much into politics but vote casually. Should that happen, they run the risk of people not even listening to any more of their message because they've made up their mind based on their perception of that candidates character alone.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. Ponyexpress2011

    This is genius!
    It you're stupid enough to vote for Obama, you're likely to fall for it!
    Nicely done.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  21. Michael

    Two words: Family Values.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. Whyniot

    Why not? CNN claims to be a legitimate news source. Both false advertising.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. ladeeda

    If they are bilking people out of campaign contributions, isn't that fraud?

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Drew

    Just sad and pathetic. Well I guess if you can't come up with any new ideas at least you can bash the other guy.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  25. p213

    love it #teamGOP

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
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