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. Winston5

    Buncha rats. Nixon would be so proud.

    February 6, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  2. here and back again

    Can't win on their record...so they have to create fake records that they can compete against. What is sad are the lemmings that blindly follow them restating the lies as truth.

    February 6, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. Craig

    Typical republican practices. Don't build up the Country; instead tear down people. Lies and falsehoods. And they call themselves Christians.

    February 6, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  4. David

    What happened to integrity and virtue ?

    February 6, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. John

    I must say that this is a new low.

    February 6, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    It's so sad that so many of the good, decent, honest people who are the backbone of this country are suckered into voting for these criminals. I'm sure the average republican voter would never stoop to doing something so underhanded. why do they support those who do? people who do this are not good Christian people, they're manipulative haters driven by greed who have only the well being of the rich at heart.

    February 6, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. alternatetakes2

    The GOP just keeps hitting new lows. But all of their underhanded, unAmerican and slimy tactics backfire. They are not just pathetic, they are fascists and apparently proud of it. If you have to buy elections and win them through deception.....oh, never mind. Lew J Whittington a proud gay Democrat.

    February 6, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. robo145

    Since when does CNN care about voters being mislead?You've been misleading them for years when it helps the Democrats....

    February 6, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  9. Andy McFey

    Would expect nothing less from the GOP – no morals of any kind – sinking lower than ever. Disgusting!!

    February 6, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. Jimh77

    Can the GOP be any more deceptive?

    February 6, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. K

    I used to vote for candidates from both parties. It was behavior like this that caused me to disregard all Republican candidates years ago.

    February 6, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  12. isolate

    Every time you think the GOP has scraped the bottom of the barrel, they find a new bottom.

    February 6, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  13. terry theorem

    How is this any different from criminals scanning money from fake web sites? Or is the GOP in the story enough to answer that question?

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

    Oops. Bias alert – lead story hammering Republicans, but it admits in the third to last paragraph that the Florida Democratic party does essentially the same thing. May not be the DCCC. Folks, both sides do it, from push polls to bogus web sites. To pillory one party but not the other is the reason people are turning away from the slanted reporting in all news media.

    February 6, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  15. robo145

    Since when does CNN worry about voters being mislead?You've been doing it for years when it helped the Democrats...

    February 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  16. lone wolf

    Is there nothing sacred to the Republican Party. Low as low can get, a sign of a party that is in turmoil. Is there anything that they are not willing to do keep themselves relevant!

    February 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  17. RRJ

    Old "Tricky Dick" Nixon would give it his blessing. Not quite burglary, not quite web site hijacking, but clearly along those themes.
    If you can't win honestly then win dishonestly. Right GOP?

    February 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  18. Rob

    With the IRS targeting targeting certain political groups, CNN chooses to focus on web sites. Buyer beware CNN is a fake news organization for democrats.

    February 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. MiBigAl

    If this is what our political system has deteriorated to, down the toilet we go. Disgusting and shameful. And these are apparently the new ideas that the GOP are putting forward to solve our many pressing problems. Sounds like the party of NO at their very best. Now all I have to decide is which party to align myself with and which party mirrors my core values.

    February 6, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. Will

    If you can't figure out who you are voting for and can't discern these sites from the politician's real site then are you really old enough to vote and if so should you be voting at all???

    February 6, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  21. thenakedpolitico

    as compared to dems buying the election in virginia and elsewhere,,this is nothing...

    February 6, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  22. jib76

    Why does this sound like a program that Dr. Joseph Goebels, Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich, would design?

    February 6, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  23. thenakedpolitico

    as compared to dems buying the election in virginia and elsewhere? this is nothing..

    February 6, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  24. VJ

    Republicans do what ever to win house and senate.. They are insane party.

    February 6, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  25. GregO

    This is the most deceptive practice in dirty politics that I have ever heard of. This is totally going to back fire. As soon as people become aware that they have been duped, game over. The republicans are grasping a straws to remain relevant. I once was a independent that voted both for republicans and democrats, but now I have lost total respect for the GOP at the highest levels. For it to be okay to deceive voters without even trying to hide behind politics, is just not a good strategy. The man behind the curtain is booming in his loudest voice to ignore him while making no attempt to conceal his actions. How dumb do they think the public has becoming? That you CNN for posting an article worth reading.

    February 6, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
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