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. Joe

    What goes around comes around. The Democrats/Progressives have been pulling these Saul Alinsky tricks for decades. Where was CNN's outrage been then?

    February 6, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Jentmode

    No clearer indication that Republicans have become desperate. They don't want to reach out and try to appeal to women, minorities, gays and other ethnic groups they continue to diss, so they instead try to use deceptive tactics to get votes.

    Desperate and Pathetic.

    February 6, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. Richie

    Might as well try something to make up for your aging base.

    February 6, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Guest

    How low can the GOP go? Disgusting.

    February 6, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  5. Bob

    This is ridiculous, but then again, it's the least they could do after what the IRS did to them. The downfall and failure of Obamacare is a much bigger story.

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. Joe NYer

    Well, then that means that the Democrats are putting out phony websites that the GOP is unwittingly using. So who's wrong here? Who has a history of crying wolf about voter fraud and intimidation? Liberals aka Democrats.

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Skeptimist

    This just another example of the GOP's dependence on sucker bait.

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. Coach Irf

    They've figured out how to use the internet??

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. John

    The Democrats and the White House are literally using the IRS as a weapon against conservatives and conservative groups and CNN wants people to shed a tear over fake websites, are you serious?

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. kendall

    unbelievable if i was to do this in my business i would be in court so fast for misrepresentation and ethic violations.

    February 6, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  11. dreucalypt

    Typical of the Republicans, typical.

    February 6, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. Mike

    Is there no limit to the depths the GOP will go? Is this not fraud?

    February 6, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. Richard B

    It speaks volumes of the GOP that they proud of this.

    February 6, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. Jim

    Google has classified the sites as phishing sites due to complaints.

    February 6, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. OLIVER

    This is probably much better to accept than lying in people's face about your programs... People need to be careful about reading the fine print and the validity of every site anyway...

    February 6, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. George

    What a sleazy, desperate political party.

    February 6, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  17. steve

    I guess these are the Dick Nixon Repugs, not the Ronald Reagan ones. – Once a crook, always a crook!

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  18. Rememberwhatbushdid

    Okay America...are you finally sick and tired of the GOP and their dirty tricks? How does it feel to KNOW that a political party that is supposed to be devoted to doing its best for you, doesn't care about you at all. Their agenda is themselves for their corporate puppet-masters. Remember in 2012 they actually tried to deprive American citizens they figured would not vote for them of their right to vote. It's time America stood up for itself against this corporate-backed onslaught against us.

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  19. Adam

    Just another slimy and deceptive attack by Republicans. And I wonder if they will tell the American people all the things their candidates have done, including the underhanded deals, short changing Middle class America, defended the 1% at everyone else's expense. Lied to America about climate changen and once more, don't really care about the middle class. Finally, time to get big money out of politics. Make it about the people.

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. Rich

    GOP's a controlled opposition, but still clever.

    There are a lot of empowered womyn and men who think like womyn in the ranks of the Dems, and those types don't like being mocked.

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. Guest

    A rather dirty move for an establishment organization to take . . . classless. Guess I should not expect much better from politicians these days, worthless bunch of oxygen thieves.

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  22. vince

    Well, if the candidate do not put all the info about him or herself then the opponent will put out all his or her info so other can see.

    February 6, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  23. BrianK

    How is this legal? If anything its unethical? How can you want the best for your country if you need to mislead and lie to get votes?

    February 6, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  24. JDJacks

    Dems have done it for the last several elections. One of the ways they won by having a stronger command of digital media. GOP is just waking up to the tactic.

    February 6, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. Rob S

    Sounds like a two-way street to me, and us Dems have a lot more money to spend than Repugnants do. Bring it on Repugs!!
    On a happier note: Bohner says the House can't pass anymore laws because they don't trust the President. Bwahahaha!!!! What a dolt that Bohner is. Can't control his own party so it's the Prez's fault? Makes perfect sense... only to a Repugnant.

    February 6, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
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