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. Dan Britten

    So, when the GOP sees the Democrats doing dirt, they can think of no better response than, "Let's do dirt, too"??? That's why I left the GOP. They don't WANT to be better.

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Beau

    They know they can't sell being themselves so, they fake who they are an pretend to be part of a more intelligent group. It's pitiful really.

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  3. Wow1234

    This isn't news. Also, the guy that donated $1000 on that site couldn't be dumber. The sites are very straight forward and spell out explicitly that they are against the candidates pictured.

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  4. Michael

    "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.”"

    Well, I guess you would be proud. But it doesn't make me want to vote Republican. It is a dirty trick no matter how proud of it you are.

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. Marc Parella

    How about trying something completely different: honesty. How about simply going to the voters and explain carefully what your party believes in and what you intend to do to help the country. No attacks; just a straight-forward message. Do you want power so badly that you are willing to sell your soul to get it?

    February 6, 2014 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  6. Tired of it all

    The more and more I observe the GOP, I think W should have added one more organization to the Axis of Evil.

    February 6, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  7. EighteenCharacters

    Well, when you lack ideas and any sort of moral foundation, what do you have left?

    This is the new Republican Party. Same as the old Republican Party.

    February 6, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  8. Kenoscope

    I believe that this activity may well be illegal under Federal Consumer Law.

    February 6, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. Brian in TX

    OMG, how low can they go? They can't win on their own message so now they put their fraud up front and if recent history is any indicator then they probably will find many people to buy into it. How sad for democracy.

    February 6, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  10. James

    Exactly what I expect from Republicans. Plain awful, just plain awful.

    February 6, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. scmaize

    This is disgusting. They are proud of deceiving voters, and think it is genius?? I didnt know the Republican Party was so morally bankrupt.

    February 6, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  12. Keith

    The only way the GOP can win elections is through deception. No big surprise here. They have been doing this kind of thing for years, openly lying to the public, and their ignorant base goes along with it.

    February 6, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. Jimmy

    that's just dirty

    February 6, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  14. Doug

    Hahahaaaa! GOP learning to play the democrats game!

    February 6, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  15. Wolf Blitzer

    This is what the GOP has sunk to? Tricking people into voting for them? GOP is officially obsolete right about now.

    February 6, 2014 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  16. Mars

    There is absolutely no fact to the article.

    February 6, 2014 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  17. Dave

    It makes me pause to remember that there are actually folks who take the "two parties" seriously and prefer one over the other out of some sort of tribal identification thing. I'm sure some of the candidates take their runs for office very seriously and feel bad if they lose.

    The idea of "getting the message out" by whatever means, is just a tad over the top.... It's not like the DemocratsandRepublicans have a principled position between them.... How could an American political party have a "message"?

    February 6, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  18. Big Mike

    Next thing you know they'll pull the chair out from under you when you try and sit down.

    February 6, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  19. Nameless

    I smell desperation. Poor republicans.

    February 6, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  20. Woden

    This is just shameful.

    February 6, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  21. Intelligent Voter

    The voters that 'accidentally' donate to the other side through these websites are the same voters that should be classified too dumb to vote.

    At least their donation will offset their vote.

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  22. Smart

    Wow!! What a bunch of idiots in the RNC. If this is not a commentary on their ethics (funding FOX News for example too) then I don't know what is. Extremely CORRUPT.

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  23. hexum77

    of course CNN would report on republicans doing this but never on on democrat voter fraud

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  24. get me outta here

    we are a doomed country. losers for both political parties.

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  25. BillyBob

    The sad thing is, it will be effective. So many idiots so little time to control them!

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58