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. Anonymous

    This doesn't seem to be the most legal idea out there. But, like all new political ideas, it'll end up before the SCOTUS.

    February 6, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. Founder

    This Country needs a viable, non-wingnut third party. These two stink.

    February 6, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. K

    So some Republican's are lying to people, while trying to hide the fact that they are lying. Big surprise.

    February 6, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. Dale

    Beware, all parties use deceptive tactics to win over their voters.

    February 6, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. Woops

    Almost like suppressing votes to prevent voter fraud.

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  6. boe747

    Diabolical. Love it!!

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. sbul

    If you don't have a compelling message to get voters to vote for your candidate then confuse them and obfuscate reality and put down the other guy. – GOP strategy. No wonder they are losing people in their party. More shooting themselves in the bootstraps as I for one and other voters do not like being "fooled" by politicians and will vote against them because of their tactics. The only people who they will reach are the stupid ones who can't see through their lack of values especially when it comes to "Truth".

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. psx2rulz

    so the govt slinging libel against each other? typical, especially gop

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. abbydelabbey

    When you cannot win fairly, you try all means foul. GOP – greedy, obstructionistic prevaricators (fancy word for liars)

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. Public Poster

    Guess the democrats dont like it when you stoop down to their level huh? Wake up America!! We have become the laughing stock of the world with this buffoon you people voted in.

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  11. Luke,AZ

    It's the only way republicans can compete, by cheating and lying. The republican party is done. Their mascot is not the elephant, it is the mastodon.

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. Cascade

    Republicans can't win fair and square so they resort to these kind of dirty tactics and in ways to try to suppress the vote. They are disgusting.

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. jcinter

    I voted for Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr. But I have not voted for any GOP candidates since those Tea Baggers got into the GOP. Today's GOP is just as low down as the snake oil salesmen in the dark alley. What happened to the respectable GOP which was like the captain of a great ocean liner, while the Dems were like the street mobs. Are we stupid or what, stupid enough to use fake web sites and gets caught. Shame, shame, shame. I guess GOP is dying and desperate to make the final breath.

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Wolfmaanjack

    Meh...repubs have fake website while dems have illegals,multi-voters and the dead....

    February 6, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. what

    Shame on both sides.

    February 6, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  16. Delft

    How's it feel eating your own medicine (deception plain simple) you've been dishing out for the last several decades?
    BTW may we please have OUR Social Security returned to us? Especially the elterly veterans'.

    February 6, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  17. srcactus

    The games that people (Politicians) play.

    The best solution for intelligent Americans is to vote for candidates and not political parties. Then hold the candidate accountable at every successive election!

    February 6, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  18. Troll2014

    So what? Obama used fake ads lure people vote for him and his Obamacare.

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    The party of "Family Values" strikes again.......

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. Alan

    When your ideas are bankrupt, what else is left.

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. Mike jones

    Don't you just love how the article talks about both sides doing it yet the headline manages to smear the Republicans.

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. Dan

    Seems like credit card fraud to me, someone should go to jail for this. If you can't beat um...cheat

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Juliana

    GOP candidates in the 21st century are so inept and terrible that they need to resort to lame attempts at deception to advance. That's beyond pathetic.

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  24. Danile6

    Gee-wonder where they got this crazy idea--oh yea-

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. TomGI

    "GOP using phony Dem websites"

    If they can't win with the message, cheat.

    February 6, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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