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. Andrew Vrba

    Stay classy Republicans.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  2. yf2

    The GOP is staking claim to the moral low ground at every opportunity.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  3. cdipinto

    A perfect example of what is wrong with our politics. Evil, unscrupulous practices.

    Look at the democratic equivalent (according the the NRCC) at the end of the story.

    This is also why the Republican Party is having so much trouble - who hires people to do something like this?

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  4. Mike

    This is totally dishonest and in my mind enters the real of being against the law. I have an idea the GOP can start hijacking high level elected reps emails addresses. Nothing like resorting to the tactics of an online crook to spread your message.

    February 6, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  5. Mike

    I'll contest it with my credit card company if ever I've been duped by one of these sites. But nothing new here, this is typical republican morals.

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. dave

    The party of Dick Nixon up to its old tricks. Conservative comments on here will say "They do it too." as if justifications learned in Kindergarten are valid.

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  7. cleareye1

    Sounds like something thought up by Christie.

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  8. Truth

    Liberals...they cry wolf over this, and the republican created site even list it as being the NRCC.

    CNN is scared their liberals can't read that? CNN really went from a news site in the early 90s to a far left political organization.

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. JB

    Looks like the GOP is starting to play by the same rules as the Dems. Long over due!

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. eric

    This is the most blatant thing cnn has ever done that shows they are a tool of the dnc. The top article is actually a warning to voters against a strategy that the gop is employing that cnn actually admits democrats have done. Of course no article when the dems did it. Jeff suckers hyperliberalism strikes again

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  11. jack

    This is the reason you don't vote Republican. They are deliberately deceiving the public and it is the lowest and dirtiest thing I have seen yet. They are trying to make you think it is a democratic sight, and when you donate, your money goes to the republicans. That is the definition of a crooked, deceitful, party that will do anything to win because they are losers.........

    February 6, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  12. adt

    Quite impressed with themselves aren't they. Playing tricks on people and pretending to be something you are not is nothing new...and certainly not creative or original.

    February 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. DemFromSC

    So the people running the GOP these days are: 1)the Tea Party fanatics, 2)people who actively try to suppress voting, 3)liars who mislead people about the effects of "Obamacare" and 4)people who are willing to set up deceptive web sites in an attempt to fool voters. They have apparently decided that they have no chance of winning elections based on their stands on the issues and can only win by deceptions and lies. One can only hope that the majority of voters will see them for what they are and vote accordingly.

    February 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  14. me

    Unbelievable... or maybe not... the right just gets more pathetic each year... Even if your beliefs are conservative, you would have to be morally bankrupt to vote for a side that is supported by such dirty tactics... what next, hacking democratic websites and changing the candidate's name to that of the GOP candidate? A new low... but no surprise, the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party will stop at nothing, the NRCC is just lowering the bar another rung, pretty soon the snakes will be able to slither right over it

    February 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  15. BTLProd

    I went to the website in the Article. There is nothing in the message, or on the site that would make anyone think it was put together by anyone but the GOP.

    How is that a fake site?

    February 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  16. Blue

    if you already know you cannot win on your own merits, you might as well just steal it. It's the Republican way...

    February 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  17. Mike Lindsay

    Notice that even though CNN has evidence that the DNC does the EXACT SAME THING, only the GOP is mentioned in their headline. This network is biased garbage

    February 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  18. Lordaskedmetodoit

    Why are republicans so creative?

    February 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  19. allenwoll

    What LESS can you expect of these loonies ? ? ?

    February 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  20. rhinot

    Can't say I'm shocked by republican deception. shady tactics and lies are their only method of getting elected at all. Ask yourself if they'd need to do that if their own candidates were at all worthy to begin with.

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    Seems like the GOP has been working their way deeper into dirty tricks since they came up with Swift boating. Have they gone too far? Beyond the bounds of American propriety? Yes, I do think they have.

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  22. Dennis Fitzpatrick

    If this is not already illegal it should be now illegal. Isn't this misrepresentation on communication devices? Lies will get them no where. If they can't beat them in an election fairly then they will lie, cheat and spread misinformation? Sounds like a Republican principal to me. Should be written in bold letters on their party platform,IF YOU CAN NOT WIN THEN LIE AND CHEAT. Media should never allow misinformation to be spread and should cut back on Republican messaging until they stop the lying. Bust them on their lies when you can and let America know the truth. You have a responsibility to report the news, not fabricate the news.

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  23. Volntyr

    Are Republican candidates that scared of their Democratic challengers to have to resort to fake websites? I dont care who does it, that is considered FRAUD in my book

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. Jeff

    Resorting to baffoonery and scam-artist tactics – today's GOP!

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  25. Adam J.

    How is this not illegal? This is absolutely ridiculous. Voters are already misinformed, now the GOP wants to capitalize on this even more by making us read the fine print? HOW ABOUT WINNING ON YOUR MESSAGE, not faking the other sides. GOP is going to burn in 2016

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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