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. Ken King

    Can the Reprehensible Republican Party sink any lower than this? I'm sure they will in the coming months and years as their popularity dwindles to the point where they will justify home grown terrorism to further their pointless agenda.

    February 6, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. rand

    So Republicans are using the same tactics that Democrats would use? Sneaky and under handed? Sounds like a good move to me. Keep it up Republicans. You have to fight dirty by being DIRTIER!!!

    February 6, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  3. RC for honesty

    Seriously? Proud of this? This is bold face deception! A lie! Bet you these are the same people who call them G-d fearin' Christians, what Commandment?

    February 6, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  4. jason

    Another republican scam...alike Reaganomics

    February 6, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Mac

    Anyone surprised?

    February 6, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  6. Farcry

    This does not come as a surprise. Republican and integrity have not been associated for many years.

    February 6, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. Bart

    Well, the site itself is hardly fake/deceptive, it's just the URL that lures one in using a false premise (i.e., that this will be a "for" site and not an "against" site). Not exactly genius (sorry, Repubs) but hardly worth raising a stink over.

    February 6, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. Garth

    LOL!!! Really CNN? Pot callin the kettle black there...

    February 6, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  9. BaldFacedLiarsWantYourVote

    Well... just goes to prove how far liars will go – do you want someone who is willing to lie (although imho all politicians do) representing your interests? Claiming they are only trying to do what's right? Hell no. So, do whatever you think is going to work – you've already told me you're being deceptive, so I think I'll just bypass websites and go straight to organized functions. But then again, I no longer subject myself to TV, so I don't have to worry about watching the commercials; I don't listen to the radio, so again I don't have to hear bogus BS from any politician and I'm not so caught up in my computer that I'd research a politician. NRCC – you're one of the reasons I don't like what I call "good Christians" – they smile in your face while stabbing you in it. I'm already turned off by politicians, this just strengthens my feelings.

    February 6, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  10. Big_D

    The GOP killed food stamps, unemployment insurance (we pay for it by the way with a separate tax), they support the XL Pipeline which will eliminate 30,000 trucking jobs to start, they have their trickle down economics condemned by the Pope, and now they are cheating and doing things the FEC should find illegal. But they think they have moral high ground? I think it is time to clean this garbage out and reform our elections so NO party can be paid for, so they represent the people.

    February 6, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  11. Matt

    LOL. When things are going bad for the Obama administration, CNN plasters headlines about Justin Bieber on the front page in a pathetic effort to distract from what's going on. Then they find what they think is a Republican scandal and their like a dog with a bone.

    February 6, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  12. Joseph Scott

    if as paragraph 16 and 17 state (hmm, wonder why so far down in the aritcle...) that democrats do it as well, why is the headline "National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters?" of course, its a rhetorical question, we know why, its a CNN story.

    February 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  13. Steve

    Republican dirty tricks – an honored tradition since 1972.

    February 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. taffylinden

    This is a new low. No matter which party does it, it's deceptive, pure and simple. Well, not so simple. If you want proof that partisanship wins over patriotism these days, here it is. Appalling. Democrat, Republican, Tea Parier, Libertarian, please don't condone or rationalize this in your posts.

    February 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  15. Jim R

    Another non-news item spun up by CNN to put down Republicans. Hey CNN, how about telling everyone a cold hard fact – that the Democratic Party has been doing this longer than the Republicans? Furthermore, why did you choose to do the story with the Republican angle? It could have been done from the Democratic angle too... couldn't it?

    February 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  16. Fred S. Smith

    For every Republican created fake website, I will be donating $100 to the Democratic Candidate's campaign. I am switching Parties. This was the last straw – so embarrassing..

    February 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  17. jon1241

    What could POSSIBLY go wrong with this plan?

    February 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. John Walsh

    Nice biased headline...Straight from the MSNBC playbook

    February 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. ColoRN

    ....oh, please! is this the best CNN and the media outlets, that are in Obummer;s pocket can do? WHY aren't you chasing after info on Benghazi, the IRS scandal, Solendra, Healthcare lies and its' crap website????

    February 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. Michael Anderson

    This really is what both parties do to us.................LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They disrespect the voters so horribly. Not just to get our votes but when they are in office.

    (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

    February 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. John

    Fake site,for a fake party of sore losers

    February 6, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. Process Guhat

    So if I understand this right politicians are being devious, deceptive, and trying to spin falsehood into fact. I guess they watched an Obama press conference to learn these skills, had dinner at some point recently with Jay Carney, and took Hillary out for lunch where she could recite "what does it matter" after four waiters died during the meal...

    February 6, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  23. Nikki7

    How pitiful that the RNC has to stoop to such lows to collect money against their opponents. It is ridiculous!

    February 6, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  24. Butch

    Good Christian behavior?

    February 6, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. Lets Take Back America

    The Liberals are just scared because they have ruined everything they have touched for the last 6 years

    February 6, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
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