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. Kyuuji

    Strange, all of the things that went on with Obama in the last week and THIS gets headlined?

    I mean, I can see why, but seriously.

    February 6, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  2. Iam reading

    If you have no message and no merit, then dirty tricks and wads of cash might keep your brain dead party alive a bit longer.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. works4me

    Gotta cheat... NO ideas, NO solutions, No being united... just NO! I'm so glad I switched in 2008... so glad!

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. Jack

    And you neo-pseudo conservative's wonder why I left, you are bunch of lairs, cheaters and thieves'

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Rick

    Just as you think the GOP can't get any lower...

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. FrankinSD

    Fraudulent, and proud of it.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Sarah

    Yeah, and we consider our political system an example other countries should base theirs on.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  8. martiniano

    No surprise, the GOP is deceptive and think we are stupid. They use lies to get their poor sluggard conservatives to believe their story that they are for jobs. The GOP is for ONE thing only: corporate profit. And every poor conservative (any conservative who earns less than $50K) is a tool, an absolute tool.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. jewoodbur

    Many Democrat voters will ask "What's 'the fine print?'"

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. Michael

    Another democratic attempt to sabotage the right by setting it up and attempting to blame the other guy

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. Paul

    If you can't win with your platform, then cheat. This is definitely not the "old" Republican Party.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. Jim

    I use to vote independent. Actually voted for Bush the first time. But after seeing what they did with invading Iraq based on lies just so Halliburton and oil would skyrocket and make them all rich, I lost heart in the GOP. And over the last 5 years seeing how much they've tried to make sure the Democrats would not succeed in fixing their 8 year mess, I see they are out for only their own hides and not the good of our great country.

    This tactic of deception does not surprise me from the GOP. I can honestly say, I will never vote republican ever again.

    February 6, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. Brian

    Wow, is that even legal?

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. Phattee

    The GOP's ideas do not appeal to a majority of voters, and that's why they rely on gerrymandering, voter suppression, unlimited dark money, and now blatant deception to win elections.

    Truly appalling.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. Wade Tritschler

    Really?! Is this really how low the campaigning has gotten already?!

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. Jon S.

    "”Well, we are very proud of this program.”" It's good to know the GOP stands behind their deceitful, lying tactics. Think about whether you want anyone associated with this party representing you. At least they've made a fan at FPN – the Fox Propaganda Network.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  17. C HALL

    A) How sad is this, B) Are you serious? C) Show's how dishonest the RNC / GOP really is. Looks like one more nail in the coffin.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Mike Denney

    Why would this surprise us? Those who've been calling themselves Republicans for the past few decades have misled us publicly, and plotted privately to do anything in their power to undermine the Dems.
    Good to see it verified and dragged out into the open though–add this to the growing number of stories that, once brought to light, expose Republicans for their dishonesty.
    Every time we hear any news stories (outside of Fox) mentioning the Republican 'party', it's always the equivalent of turning over a stone and exposing a den of snakes. One of the most promising things about digital media, actually.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Karen McCormick

    The RNCC "insult and Offend" program lives on. How low will they go? Shamelessly low from the looks of it. Disgusting and clueless that they are driving away the very people who may have supported them in the past.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. duke

    This article is a hack job. Pathetic!

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. Dave Allen

    Subvert the right to vote. Trick voters into supporting you by disguising who you are. What will the Republicans think of next?

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. pkMyt1

    Can't win an honest election so the GOP pulls out all stops to cheat.

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. Todd

    Just like all republican plans, this one will fail too. No worries

    February 6, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. jsl123

    you get what you vote for!

    February 6, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. Pat Young

    Fine. Keep playing these games, keep hanging yourself. Election time is coming, losers.

    February 6, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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