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. Kobeight

    This does not surprise me coming from this corrupt party. Isn't this considered fraud to the public?

    February 6, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. realville

    Finally. Republicans are learning the art of dirty politics from the masters of deceit, lies and obfuscation...Democrats.

    February 6, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  3. brandi

    tsk! tsk!.Republicans are really desperate.......Hear the cry of the manby people suffering...NOT YOUR TEA PARTY GROUP AND RICH PEOPLE!!! or most of you will be out of office tis midterm election.

    February 6, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  4. Keegan Nunley

    It puzzles me. We reject bondage, and abuse, but have no problem imposing it on others. These rotten good for nothing 2 parties should be fired and rejected for this tribal mentality, abuse of the information age, and the manipulation of the citizens.
    U.S. political corruption here is just as bad if not more damaging than places like Russia, or Nigeria. Is that what we want?

    America, You are so tilted toward personal independence that you tolerate conditions like this. Pretty sad. I really question weather this is the country to stay in for the next decade, cause its pretty lonely and tribal even when you have friends.

    February 6, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  5. Katherine

    This doesnt surprise me. Republicans lie and cheat ... that's being Republican.

    February 6, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. JayT

    Typical. We have to demand better behavior from those running for Office and those speaking on their behalf. If they can't or won't clean up their act... perhaps its time to mandate ALL campaigns need to be run through ONE government site where information can be fact checked and controlled.

    February 6, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Immanuelrx

    This is embarrassing and shows what shape the Republican party is. I tend to lean Republican when voting even though I consider myself independent, but this is something that would have me lean the other direction. I don't care if the info is true or not, it is a desperate move that shows lack of focus and direction within the GOP.

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. SeattleReign

    Sounds like an act of desperation, if you ask me. What's wrong with getting out the information on GOP sites??? Oh, that's right. It's the GOP.

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  9. bspurloc

    good thing the GOP is of a higher moral status or who knows what evils they would be doing....

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  10. Bob Lees

    I wonder how the NRCC would feel about a really well organized DOS attack? It might be sleazy but hey, I think it's genius. Maybe add a bit of ransomware to class up the joint...You know just to "even the playing field".

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. ngc1300

    What do you expect of a party with no scruples, that can't run on issues, because their perspective is being overwhelmed by a demographic and age change among the electorate? Their only option is deceit and obfuscation.

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    So is this CNN or an Internet supermarket tabloid?

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. James

    Funny how the the link to NRCC's site on that fake John Lewis page pings differently than the real website. CNN got trolled.

    February 6, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  14. Chris

    This is whining at its finest. I went to the supposed fake site they list as an example and it is very obviously a GOP campaign ad without deception. The appropriate credits are given as mandated, only a fool would think this was the Democrats official site.

    February 6, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. caseyhd

    Strange there is no coverage of this on Fox...........

    February 6, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  16. Not again...

    After the GOP get done with all of the lies – tricks – deceptions & obstructions would be nice if the GOVERNED in the house.

    February 6, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Name

    Should be illegal

    February 6, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. joe

    If the Republicans actually had some ideas and something to offer, they wouldn't have to resort to lies, cheating, and expensive schemes to suppress the vote.

    February 6, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. paul

    Hood-winking the electorate is "pure genius"? What happened to morals and ethics in the Republican party?

    February 6, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. Mars

    This article is a lie. The sites where created by Liberal base to defame republicans.

    Liberals are so ugly at politics they need to be banned from them. Vote no to Liberalism.

    February 6, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. Maimonida

    For GOP it is business as usual.

    February 6, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. sativa619

    Well, this has removed all doubt that the GOP is as evil a party as they come. You want a fight? You got it.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  23. 40acres

    >>>Undeterred, the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks it has a winner and will create more fake websites as the 2014 midterm elections draw near.<<<

    One can only hope Karma will catch up to them.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. MIchael

    The GOP doesn't think these things through.

    It's not going to sway a liberal or a conservative but it's definitely going to sway those in the middle.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  25. Mary Carter

    I think with all of the corruption in government and the scandals, the incompetence it is about time for both parties to do something good for the country and to stop the ugliness, dishonesty and cheating. I am sick to death of the bunch of them and for the last few years I vote straight Independent.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
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