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. Dudus

    It says right there on the page.

    "John Barrow is your typical say-and-do-anything-to-get-elected politician."

    "Fed up with John Barrow?"

    So people donated money to a website without even reading it!?!?!?

    February 6, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Guitartrooper

    Deception is perhaps the worse way to gain trust. Not a good idea.

    February 6, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  3. David

    Typical Socialist controlled media looking to ruin the GOP right or wrong. Where were they when Obama got 110% of the votes in certain areas of the country ??

    February 6, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. Kris

    What seems to be soft pedaled in the piece is that fact that the NRCC/websites are taking in donations that donors think they are giving to a Democratic candidate. How is this even legal? How is this not fraud? I guess when you can't win on the issues all that's left is scamming donations off of unsuspecting American voters. Stay classy, NRCC.

    February 6, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  5. Polymathicguy

    Politicians being deceptive? Say it isn't so ...

    February 6, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  6. Devin ALden

    ok i dont like democrats but this freaking stupid. im just so done with political parties in general. none of them help at all. even george wasington warned us against them but we did not heed his warning and now look where we are.

    February 6, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. Willmac7496

    Go to the websites. If your such an idiot that you cannot distinguish between a real campaign homepage and a one that is meant to exhibit the negatives of a candidate for the benefit of the other party than you do not deserve to be voting.

    February 6, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. D. Powers

    I don't care for their tactics. And this is not a defence of what they have done. But how is this different from what those scattered groups of twitter organized democrats have done to republican wiki pages for the last couple of elections?
    In 3..2..1..

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

    VOTER BEWARE!!!!
    Recently discovered emails proves why Lois Lerner pled the fifth and that the IRS did indeed target for political beliefs. If this were a republican administration this story would be plastered all over the news, many people would be fired if not in jail. All Americans should be concerned that the media is giving this administration a free pass. Giving a pass now can come back to haunt the other party when the power shifts

    February 6, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. Patricia Aiko Ogino

    Why am I not surprised that our politicians along with their staff members are spending yet more time on the deception plans for the next election instead of focusing on doing their present jobs now. People are struggling, suffering and even dying while they begin their expensive campaigns of BS while we wait for them to get things done that effect the quality of our lives.

    February 6, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  11. D

    Stay classy, GOP!

    February 6, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. Jinny

    Very deciptive. Too bad I was leaning republicans I'm not sure after I read the article. Sounds like fraud and lies to me. What ashame

    February 6, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. Mike C

    funny.... the Democrats are doing the same thing with fake news organizations like CNN and MSNBC.

    February 6, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  14. Kronykus

    Easy fix: realize that both parties are corrupt and consider anything any of them say, from either side, is nothing but BS intended to get more votes. Look up their voting history, if they have one, and see if their actions represent you. Words are just strings of letters, manipulated to con voters out of their votes.

    February 6, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. SeattleExplorer

    Deception. Something which many Republicans are quite familiar.

    February 6, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. MV

    The current manifestation of the Republican party is a national embarrassment. Dishonest, unprincipled, without ideas, corrupt class warriors for the 0.1%. Shame.

    February 6, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  17. bill schretter

    I hope that this story is not true. Such a strategy is unethical and confusing to the electorate. DON'T DO IT GOP. Be above board. Be truthful and civil and the American people will discover the truth in your platform.

    February 6, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    It is about time the republicans get some balls and start fighting back. the democrats have been fighting illiaglly and dirty for years and years and the republicans just sit there and take it.

    February 6, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  19. bilk7

    Why people keep voting for a party that deceives, distorts, obstructs and out right lies is beyond me.

    February 6, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  20. elGiblet

    It will come out that it was Dems posing as GOP creating sites about Dems. However, that won't get such big, bold letters at the top of the page.

    February 6, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. durundal

    Explain how this is not a huge scandal and virtually as bad as vote tampering? Oh look the group that touts its faith based morality is nothing more than a facade put up by gutter sucking worms. And to add insult to injury they double down by saying there is nothing bad. What a bunch of sociopaths

    February 6, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. brad1001

    Deception has always worked in the past.

    February 6, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. Truth

    So let's see, the Democrats use the IRS to target conservative groups (in a 100 to 7 ratio), and did this as well...and now cry foul when there own techniques are used against them.

    As if just being completely incompetent isn't enough.

    February 6, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. Michael

    Of COURSE the Republicans not only see nothing wrong with deception ... but are proud of it. That's because Republicans will say anything and do anything in the interest of winning. Winning and being "in power" is ALL they care about.

    February 6, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  25. praxis421

    As long as we have a corporate two party system, I'm not surprised at which side does what at this point. Im sick of the ignorance and greed and agendas.

    February 6, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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