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. Carlos

    Um, so it's "illegal" for a person to go to a website and write a fake-bad review about a business, but it's perfectly ok for a Politian to make a face website about another candidate?

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Timothy Johnson

    What a sham. Another massively slanted CNN article masquerading as news. Admits in the content that both sides do it but that's buried way down in the article. How much longer will this country need to be brainwashed by the media before it wakes up. Note that other sites are no better; e.g. foxnews, huffingtonpost, etc. America's media is a travesty of corruption, much the same that our democracy has become at the hands of the power hungry political elite. And by the way, wake up folks. In case you haven't noticed, you don't actually live in a democracy.

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  3. Onceuponatime

    Republicans make fake republican websites talking trash about themselves just to get a Fox News headline saying it's all fake websites the Democrats made to make them look bad, which in turn makes voters vote Republican out of sympathy. Ironically the trash is actually truth.

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. G24U

    If they lie about the facts to get into office, what do you think they will do once they are in office?

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Julie

    Republicans on deception: "Well, we are very proud of this program.”
    'Nuff said.

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. Kay Lee

    The Spirit of Tricky Dicky Nixon lives on!

    February 6, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  7. Fox News

    We here at Fox News can't object loudly enough. Creating lies and selling them as the truth is clearly our business. We invented it. We have a patent on it. Everyone else should stop, or pay us royalties.

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. Robert

    Heck – to be truthful, I should say Dems AND republicans self disclosure tend to be pretty... lacking.

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  9. Hmmm

    This is good reporting there should be more reporting like this to bring attention to issues that really affect people.

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. CSG

    The one website klinked in the article is clearly marked as a product of the NRCC, yet CNN assesses "it may sound deceiving". Deceiving, perhaps, to utter half-wits. Who is, exactly, is being "lured"? Please, CNN, try again.

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. Tom

    Check out the lies from the demo's too.

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Regularguy22

    The website you have provided is very clear in asking whether you "Had enough of John Lewis"

    February 6, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. Fred Jones

    Typical republican strategy – they know their base is disappeaing. They know all minorities despise them. They know common sense Americans hate their guts. Their only strategy remaining: try to use friends in the Supreme Court, state legislatures and other hate groups to steal elections. They are truly guilty of high treason against the United States of America.

    February 6, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. newportfella

    Haha, the repubs know their message is such crap they have to dress up like dems to even get people to listen. That's what I'd call a serious lack of confidence.

    February 6, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. Michael Angellotti

    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.”

    This is what is wrong with this party, and what drove me as far away from them as I could flee. They are clinically nuts

    February 6, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. mensaman

    Just taking a page out of the Obama playbook. Who can forget the convicted criminals from ACORN?

    February 6, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Dave

    It's what all con artists do. If you are fooled by their shameless lying, that's obviously your own fault.

    February 6, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Vince

    Isn't that fraud? You could be prosecuted for that!

    February 6, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. grafixer

    This has GOT to be illegal. Find out who in the GOP is responsible – ALL OF THEM – and charge them with a crime. It's time to call the GOP on their nasty deeds, and put a stop to it.

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. maggie

    Wow. Liars AND cheats. Who knew?

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  21. gobsmacked

    Well, since they can't get votes legitimately . . . and I love how the old, well Dems do it too (uhm NO, not like this!) is plopped in at the end to make it seem all balanced and all. There seems no end to repub. underhandedness.

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Craig

    You mean lying to win an election like Obama lied about Obamacare is not okay any longer? Hey CNN, since the ACA was passed in 2010 you had 3 years to read the most important new law in 30 years and tell us what was coming. A law touching every American. As journalists, you could skip Miley Cyrus for a day, and tell us if it was true about "keeping our insurance", "keeping our doctor", $2,500. premium reduction per family". You know, journalism. When did you do that?

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. goo6er

    I can remember a Republican party that once prided itself on honesty and integrity. Ronald Reagan would be ashamed of what it has become.

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  24. Richard Hode

    So the Republicans are gangsters and liars, and what else is new?

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  25. Steven

    Having looked at the 'fake' John Lewis site, there's no way anyone can call the site a fake or trying to con people out of money. It's extremely clear that it's a site criticizing him. So much so, that I can't believe this is actually the lead story on this site.

    February 6, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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