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. Hecklebone

    Yep, the moral conservatives at it again. What happened to honest fiscal conservatives?
    Instead we have 'leadership' that act like Catholic priests sodomizing boys, selling it on the internet and then being proud of it: "We are very proud of the program."
    I give up, I'll vote for Hillary or Biden. I am ashamed of the ethical corruption in the 'right'.

    February 6, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. Kevin

    Unfortunately, this is what happens when a political party has lost all credibility and power to their name, left only to scratch at the bottom of society. The GOP's best scenario is to dissolve as soon as possible.

    February 6, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  3. jksmith

    Real information, fake information, it's all the same.

    February 6, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. Ryan C

    Dems and repubs are finally working together- steering Americans towards a third party.

    February 6, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  5. jewoodbur

    Since both parties do it, it's OK...(rolls eyes)

    February 6, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  6. SJB

    To me, it sounds highly deceptive and like a Senator Rand Paul (R) idea. If you recall Sen. Paul (a physician) is the one who spoke to medical school students about giving out "misinformation" to trick class mates into studying for the wrong subjects!

    Where is the Federal Elections Commission on this? What about the Dept .of Justice?

    The RNC needs to be made to turn over money collected deceptively, to the Democratic candidate.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. James

    Deception: see Affordable Care Act.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Isn't this usually called fraud?

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. davecu

    Is this legal?
    What a bone head idea!

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. knavery2112

    So Republicans feel it's OK to deceive and lie to the general public. They're no different then the hackers that take over existing websites to steal your data. This should be flat out illegal. They're essentially starting a campaign to spread misinformation about their opponents.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. BuglessDuster

    This is not a new tactic. Zuckerberg and several other leftist groups have run pro-amnesty ads and used the word "Conservative" in the "sponsored by" tagline to give the impression that amnesty is a conservative ideal. It's meant to deliberately deceive.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  12. Merry Grant

    The GOP is lower then low.
    They lost me years ago from a registered Republican to become a mind of my own.
    I watched as they tried to destroy Clinton with their harping on White Water, and of course Monica.
    They did finally get the Bible Belt and all the church goers (What we would like America to be, but unfortunately I doubt that it is a Pollyanna vision).
    They are unethical in the truth.
    To me, now at the stage in my life,I now have to research (Web) everything before I vote.
    I suggest everyone do so.. If you are not sure, do not cast your ballot.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  13. heyheyheyy

    repubs are a bunch of looooossssers.

    February 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. bill simmons

    Isn't this usually called fraud?

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  15. Polijukie

    Gerrymandering, voter registration laws, now this?! They know that they can't win the fair way.

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  16. Rafa

    Omg!!! What way to cheat!!!this republicans are a crooks !!!!

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  17. PaminIA

    They are proud of lying to voters? yep sounds like a republican scam to me. I guess since they can't win on the issues they have to lie and cheat to do it.

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  18. Matt

    I noticed you can donate to the "candidate" on the website that was linked. Since you're trying to make people believe it's actually for that candidate, people could very well mistake that they're donating to them instead of the NRCC. Isn't this illegal?

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  19. Andy

    This makes me sick. It's disgusting. I'm not happy with the Democrats these days but these people don't have a prayer of getting my vote.

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  20. ItSoNlYmE

    So this is what the GOP has to stoop to now? Clearly this is the last dying gasp of a completely morally bankrupt party. About time. Oh, and you guys seem to think the average Democrat is as stupid as the average Republican to fall for this stunt? Give us a break already...

    February 6, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. craigorie

    Too bad candidates can't win elections fair and square.

    February 6, 2014 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  22. Seth

    ”Well, we are very proud of this program.”

    The GOP... obviously.

    February 6, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. guest

    Both genius and sad at the same time.

    February 6, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. Tim T

    The only way to get a good democrat to look at GOP crap is to trick them I suppose. It's wonderful that they are learning how to navigate the internut! lol

    February 6, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  25. Wholly Mary

    Liars and cheats, as always.

    February 6, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
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