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. ZaSu Pitts

    Why am I not surprised the GOP would stoop to this.

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. elmabest

    Because they really will stop at nothing.

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  3. Brian

    "National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters"

    I like how the headline implies that this deception technique is exclusively employed by Republicans.......but buried in the bowels of the article they mention, almost as a side note, that this is nothing new and Democrats basically do the same thing.

    February 6, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. Binny

    This is pretty disturbing- and I can't believe the NRCC thinks this a good idea! Doesn't the Republican Party have enough bad press that they now go around boasting how they are "tricking" voters?

    February 6, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. John

    1. Why is this headline news???
    2. The line "It may sound deceiving, but Scarpinato insists the well-thought out, well-planned program is pure genius." should not have a "but" in it.
    3. If the Dems do it, thanks for putting it at the end, where I'm sure most people, don't get that far in a poorly thought out, ignorantly written, blog post.
    4. Is CNN not better than this???

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. blondie

    Republicans can't win if they play fair.

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. TK

    Voters beware, Democrats using unqualified presidents.

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. EW

    Fake obamacare sites weren't enough? Now they have to find new ways to LIE??

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. Keloids

    Do the republicans ever think that having great governing ideas...things to benefit the citizens of our country, might be the way to win elections. Or is winning by any means ok..is that what they teach their children?

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. PAllen

    Today's Republican Party practices the same philosophy as right wing religious fundamentalists: the end justifies the means.

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. ak_steve

    The GOP isn't even trying to hide the deceitfulness. They are celebrating it. This is the "moral" party?

    February 6, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  12. greg

    Being an independent I wonder if I will ever be able to trust a Republican again

    February 6, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    I bet the IRS is looking at the web sites

    February 6, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  14. jeffc6578

    Just another example of how truly awful and utterly dishonest republicans really are.

    February 6, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. colin in Florida

    Politicians cheating: What's new. In my district, the Democrat's #1 commercial accuses the Republican of being an ex-lobbyist, which is true. Of course, the local paper has shown that #1 source of funds for her campaign are current lobbyists. And she is a carpet bagger-she bought a house in my district 2 weeks after our congressman died, just do she could run for office.

    In short, neither is worth spit. I am disgusted.

    February 6, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  16. Maltytasker

    I haven't seen this story on Fox News yet.

    February 6, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  17. Michael

    No surprise here. Deceit is in the DNA of today's Republican Party.

    February 6, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  18. Bridget

    NRCC= Bottom Feeders!

    February 6, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  19. ConcernedCitizen

    This is disgusting. A new low in politics. I'm surprised that such deception and misrepresentation is not illegal. If it isn't, it should be.

    February 6, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  20. Robert

    What a bunch of jerks from both sides of the aisle to do this kind of thing. Really? I think a few government officials have way too much money to spend if this is how they do it. No wonder people don't trust their government.

    February 6, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  21. Steven Chen

    Please do not lie.
    I have seen the website, it's very clear as what it is intended to do. It's not a fake website. Obviously some idiots may donate by accident thinking it's for democrats. Idiot shouldn't be allowed to vote, especially idiots don't read fine prints.

    February 6, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  22. Not Republican

    Everything the GOP does is fake.
    I wish the party would die just a little faster.

    February 6, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. Joaquin

    I pity Mr Scarpinato, because he seems unaware that these bogus websites are unethical.

    February 6, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. kate gallagher

    No one should be surprised, there is not an honest republican anywhere, they are not smart enough.

    February 6, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  25. HAH

    Who donates $1,000 to website without reading the text? hahaha

    February 6, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
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