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

    It's official. Republican strategists are the worst people in the USA. Purge voter rolls, set up deafacto poll taxes, restrict machines and polling hours in democratic districts, and now set up phony sites posing as real. I guess the good news is that this level of desperation reflects the fact that they can't win on their own merits, because Republican strategists and politicians are entirely without merit.

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Mike

    Absolutely disgusting as to how low the GOP continues to sink. I guess when you are the party that has to rely on 24 hours of lies from Fox News and answer the presidents address with lies it should not be a surprise.

    February 6, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. Rowin Masrani

    This takes the phrase "if you can't beat em, join em" to a whole new level !

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. LW

    No wonder our political system is trash.

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Molly

    This is a new low for the government. We all already know there is a lot they are not telling us and lie to us about stuff, now this? Republicans, grow up

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. sammy750

    Would any voter vote for a party that has to win by dirty tricks. Just think if they ran the nation. Well they run the House and look what they are doing. Defeat the nasty, dirty Republicans

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Phillip

    I guess I shouldn't be suprised, I think this is Fox New's mission...

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. M. Farmer

    If it is on the Internet it must be true!

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. shan

    Using the digital domain for e v i l . Way to go, GOP!

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. MightyMoo

    "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."

    This says quit a bit about America since we keep electing these people.

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. Qodex

    Great. Yet another reason to despise republicans.

    February 6, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. FactsRBad

    This is not "pure genius" – it is pure desperation on the part of the GOP. Just when you thought politicians could stoop no lower, something like this comes out and reinforces that there is no limit on the depth of depravity that permeates our political system.

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  13. R Long

    If the shoe fits, i guess the Dems have to wear it.. I suppose they dont like the fact that Republicans are posting TRUE FACTS about these candidates.. Most obvious is the support of the disaster called OBAMACARE.

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. RickPnTex

    So the Dems do it to; why the headline CNN? Where is the story? They arent even deceptive......so.....?

    CNN should try to just report the news in an unbiased way –

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. gwats1957

    Sounds like Republican 'garbage tactics'... if you can't win fairly, cheat... that's their mantra.

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Hadenuffyet

    Does anybody really believe the pitches of politicians ? You just have to decide who's done the least harm.

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. huehuehue

    How is a website determined to be democrat or republican? Is CNN a democrat website or a fake democrat website? This is confusing

    February 6, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Kevinmahar

    DESPERATION,pure and simple,can't win any other way so let's trick the voters. Classy

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. NSL

    Typical GOP tactics. If you can will fair and square, cheat. The GOP hasn't changed since the days of Nixon. They're still a bunch of haters, cheats, and liars. These actions have finally convinced me I'd be a complete idiot to ever vote for a GOP candidate again.

    As an independent, the GOP has totally turned me off, and they've done it, just when I was prepared to support some GOP candidates.

    Good work cheaters and extremists, you've finally turned this independent into a Democrat. Obama may be a mediocre president, but his poor actions pale in contrast to the GOP's actions.

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. ReaganRepublican

    Disgusting! ...and they wonder why so many have left the party!

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Dave

    Doesn't it make you mad when the Republicans start using the same tricks that the Democrats have been using for years....

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. Karen McCormick

    More disgusting,unethical behavior from the RNCC. How low and negative will they go? Shamelessly low, from the looks of it. The RNCC "Insult and Offend" program lives on.

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  23. Benny

    I think it would be interesting to see if Democrats have indeed done this before. I find this ethically wrong, reprehensible and an insult to the intelligence of the American public.

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. Steve

    Both parties are disgusting in their tactics as are their billionaire friends. Matters not if it is Koch/Adelson/Soros or any other person. And tell celebrities and news people to stop blabbing too. Normal Americans are suffering through a terrible economy while D.C. spends like there is no problem anywhere and politicians basically ignore the electorate.

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Sickened

    Of course the GOP is always "very proud" of anything they do to deceive voters. They are going to be very surprised that Americans don't want to listen to a bunch of Machiavellian schemers. Let's just throw any shred of morality right out the window, right GOP?

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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