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. jmix101

    This should be illegal.

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. Arvetis

    DMCA taketowns incoming!

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    CNN and the Democrats don' t like having the tables turned on them. Pathetic !!!

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Bigtexun

    The people responsible should be put in jail! They not only mimic the web site of the democrat they are attacking, they solicit donations. Sure, if you can read you can probably detect the site is the wrong site, but this is a slippery slope. This year they will go just so far, then the next election cycle they will go a bit farther, and they will keep pushing until they find the limit to how far they can go. Let's set the tolerance for this and other underhanded political crap to zero. It's time we end American dirty politics. If the GOP can't fight fair, then put them all in jail. Same should be true for the Democrats.

    I sick of this, it is corrupt.

    AND I think we should hold everyone putting up any ads to the truth. Anything, on either side, found to be untrue should be pulled. I'm tired of the lies.

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  5. DocHollywood

    ,,,,,,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.”,,,,,,,,

    Sound deceiving? It IS deceiving. But what's new? For the last 14 election cycles, the Republicans have used lies as facts, they've come to believe that bad morals are only what democrats do, that the end justifies the means. When a party uses lies and deception to win races, to restrict the volume of voters because they're voting against them, you know that party is in trouble.

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. scranton

    Geesh what a mess.

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. Bubbah

    Vote the bums out of office. Vote a straight dem ticket
    The silent majority will be heard.

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  8. harrisonhits2

    And the human filth behind the GOP sinks to yet another low. It says all you need to know about them that they think its a great idea to commit fraud.

    Not that i'm defending the Dems, they are just as bad as the GOP. Both parties are utterly and hopelessly corrupt.

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. jon wilson

    Imagine that more deception from the republican party. Sounds like it came right out of the Fox News playbook.

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. tomsanders

    This is a deceptive practice and should not be tolerated by members of the party. I don't care if you are a Republican or Democrat, the election campaigns should not be this blatantly dishonest.

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. Jason

    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.”

    -------------------------------------------------

    Who cares what party does this to whatever opposition party – that statement alone speaks to the root problem of all politics, political fraud is easy to get away with, rewarded, and perpetrators think they're doing the world a favor. Wish I had that luxury in my job, fraud to better my career – no wait, I don't cause it's WRONG. But I'm not of the ilk these folks are. This is a joke but not one of those funny ones.

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Chuk

    Great, how desperate can GOP be to want to "win" at all costs? And what is it they'd "win".

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  13. Danie Maddigan

    The republicans can't win on the merits of their argument so the lie, cheat and steal. Vote the republicans into EXTINCTION!

    February 6, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. Talulah

    Just when I think I can't get any more disgusted with politics...someone ups the ante. And I'm certainly not surprised it's the GOP behind it. Courts are overturning all their attempts to disenfranchise voters by requiring ID, so they're doing the next best thing: spreading false information about candidates. Voter fraud is voter fraud.

    February 6, 2014 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. Loathstheright

    That is how Republicans do it, they are just dishonest and can't stand not cheating, it's in their genetic makeup.

    February 6, 2014 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Nick Myer

    Typical Republican strategy. If you can't win, CHEAT!

    February 6, 2014 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. Dop73

    What a great idea! If you can't get voters to vote for you and your platform, trick them! Liars 2014

    February 6, 2014 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. ardvrk

    Because they can't win with the truth – they resort to LIES.

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. DJ

    Par or the course with Republicans. If they can't win honestly, then cheat.

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. WilliamChicago

    What is fraudulent, dishonest, and contemptible are core values to the Republican party. And the GOP wonders why they are held in such contempt by so many Americans.

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. Matthew

    Jail them all!

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Jolly Rodgers

    Makes sense to view from both sides... What about these websites make them "fake"?

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  23. Bob Daniels

    Didn't anyone look into the story further? The reported deceptive Dem site at the end of the article is actually owned by the GOP. Please follow through more, the next time.

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. Datacomm

    I find this practice down right disgusting and dishonest!!! PERIOD. Why would anyone vote for a candidate who sells him or herself via a website that they admit is a fake. That makes them a fake too in my opinion.

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  25. Margaret

    One more reason not to vote for a Republican. When did cheating and lying become a good thing? Why can't they just win on their own merits?

    February 6, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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