February 6th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
7 months 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. PaulMN

    Seems that CNN and the Dems are a little thin-skinned. Let the games begin!

    February 6, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  2. Kevin Hays

    Worried about real voter fraud? Outlaw the GOP!

    February 6, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  3. A

    “It is not the DCCC’s practice to make websites that could be confused with the opponents site.”

    This is what the legal system has become; a football match. Never mind disagreements with the ideals of a party; one must always stick with their "team" and fight to the end to defeat the "opponents". If we were to double back and take a sidelong glance at the election process, it is supposed to benefit the American people, with the aforementioned uniting to help their team, team America. It should NOT be a game with many factions competing for the glory of office, with what is to be done in office as a second thought and forgetting what "team" they are on. We need to abolish the system that turns the American people's lives into a football game, and push for politicians that don't fight for a party, but instead the people.

    February 6, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Name

    It's not that bad

    February 6, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. davel

    No surprise here.... first they try to suppress the vote, then they try to steal your money so they buy more votes. That's about as un-democratic as you can get. Makes me wonder.... who are the real terrorists?

    February 6, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. CMDM

    This is why we need a brand new government. This is AMERICA, we should not be wasting time on such foolish games that both of these parties are playing. I'm just so sick of it.

    February 6, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. The dude

    Have we gotten to the point where the Republicans don't even try to hide that they are sleazy anymore? That they are "proud" of it?

    February 6, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. eric redding

    obvious Democrat voters are too stupid to figure out these aren't the actual candidate websites?

    February 6, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  9. JMO

    Wake me up when the Republicans have an idea of their own.

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. lol

    Hilarious, typical leftist spin. There's thousands of leftist sites doing the same thing to republicans. CNN sinks to yet another new low.

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  11. Patrick

    Yet another example of the total disconnect the Republican party has with the average American voter...

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  12. keith

    That's a real shocker. Maybe God told them to do it..

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. jzzzz

    Richard Nixon would be proud!

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  14. Kcc

    Since the NRCC feels like they can't compete, they have to cheat. Can you give us a better message than get reelectected no matter how slimy the tactics? Oh yes and shutting down the government will solve all our problems.

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. Philip

    Luring Dems in with deceit? And they wonder why they are having branding problems....

    February 6, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. haddock

    More classy moves from the party that brought you Chris Christie.

    February 6, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Bill

    Puleeeez. I have never voted republican and probably never will... but come on, these sites (at least the one that was linked in the article "johnlewis4congress") are CLEARLY satirical (or at least weakly attempting to be lol) and in general paint Lewis (and Obama, and the ACA, and etc...) in a negative light. The only deceptive part is the URL but if you read one sentence below that it's obvious. They may be in poor taste but hardly unethical or evil. Come on people let's be smarter shall we?

    February 6, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Johnjon

    ummm............... it's called pathetic, not genius.

    February 6, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. longhauler

    The gop has been puttin out tons of fake e-mail propaganda for yrs

    February 6, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Dave

    Is no one punished for lying

    February 6, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. hh

    Any surprise from a party who represents a large group of people in our country who believe the world is less than 10,000 years old, don't believe in global warming, oppose environmental regulations, hate government, and discriminate against woman, minorities, gays, illegal immigrants, etc., etc., etc.?!!!

    February 6, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. sgayres

    You print this as a headline but you won't touch the lie that was told by Susan Rice for 2 weeks. And BTW... a good writer should know that "more clever" is preferable to "cleverer".

    February 6, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. bob

    Cheaters never prosper. Liars get what's coming to them too. Screw you NRCC. And if Dems end up being proven to do it too (at a national committee level), screw them too.

    February 6, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Grumpy old man

    Typical Republicans. Selling their souls to the biggest donors doesn't attract a lot of votes, so they have to resort to all kinds of dirty tricks. All so they can sucker the naïve into voting for Koch brother goons.

    February 6, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  25. Michael Gadway

    They just lost all my respect. They obviously do not have any respect for the democratic process.

    February 6, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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