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. Ron

    There is nothing they won't stoop to. Every day I think I have witnessed a new low. And then something else lower comes on the scene.

    February 6, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. brian

    I thought Nixon died. Some of his dirty tricks people are still around.

    February 6, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  3. Don

    I notice the huge DONATE button, which is designed to trick people into giving their money to the NRCC. This is reprehensible.

    February 6, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  4. CAWinMD

    That's about right - the GOP can't win on actual ideas. They have to resort to tricking people into reading what passes for truth in the GOP. And apparently they are proud of it.

    February 6, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  5. Jim g

    Well false stat from a Republican website is not enough, now they pretend to be a Democratic site and lie some more. If you are going to spin things at least show who you are, don't be a fraud. You must be ashamed of your positions to pretend to be someone else.

    February 6, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  6. Anonymouse

    I hope they sue all of you for libel.
    It's just another example of how low the and desperate the GOP has become.
    Where is the Ethics and Morals clause in the GOP Campaign Finance Committee?

    February 6, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  7. james lamm

    This reminds me of the extortion tactics a few months ago. The republicans I talked to saw nothing wrong with holding millions of federal workers hostage unless the gov. de-funded Obamacare. Now they see nothing wrong with this. Fox news pumps these people with so much hate, they end of blind to right and wrong.

    February 6, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  8. Scott

    This is appalling. I noticed earlier that this was a featured article and now is filed under "political ticker". Please keep this at the front of your reporting. This is important and needs to stop. It is dishonest and does not reflect well on the GOP.

    February 6, 2014 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. Dude

    The Republicans are only systematically lying through there teeth so they can point out that Democrats are dishonest.

    February 6, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    Guess there's no low the GOP won't stoop to in order to have a snowball's chance of winning an election. But it's not surprising, given that everyone with a working brain knows that all of the GOP's economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    Vote out all the repubs and tea bags come November 4, 2014. You know you want to; so just do it!

    February 6, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. Moses

    This should not come as a surprise. Just about everything connected to Republicans is fake. Legacy of Karl Rove.

    February 6, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. kevin costello

    they just can't stop lying

    February 6, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  13. Scot

    The URL for a website is not the same thing as a fake website, and I suspect you know this.

    Your deceptive headline is more a lie than any of these websites.

    February 6, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  14. TomNPitt

    I don't know where this Republican Party wants to take us. They seem to be working at winning elections at all costs, and at the same time do nothing for the American people at no cost. What will happen to this country if this radical minority of crazies ever win the majority of the government. I hope to God their real political intents aren't what they keep saying they are. If they are, we will move into a time history will weep over.

    February 6, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. S. B. Stein

    Faking a web page for your opponent is just rude and wrong. One would only do that if there was little chance of winning the seat.

    February 6, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. fozzyspeak

    You have got to be kidding me

    February 6, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  17. Patty

    anyone surprised by this saw it on the news today. They are such low down creeps, Smacks so much of that smarmy Richard Nixon. I smh every day over the absurdity of Repubs. Boehner for one few weeks ago he was all about immigration moving forward and not being political football, today doesn't trust this administration to follow the law. All it took was a little bit of the tea party pressure (or more correctly THE NUT JOB faction) and he back pedals like crazy. I hope every person of Latin descent heard that message and check mark a DEM box in 2014 and 2016.

    February 6, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  18. Person

    More intellectual dishonesty from the people who brought us WMD, Death Panels, takers vs. job creators, the "horror" of Obamacare, and the ultimate fabrication: accusing the Democrats of being bigger liars than they are.

    February 6, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. Arcturus

    "We are very proud" of deceiving the public. Yep, that just about sums up the Republicans.

    February 6, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  20. Used to be a republican but never Again

    Wow the GOP cheating ! I would be outraged if I didn't expect them to cheat ! The new republican party is nothing like the party of Lincoln !

    February 6, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. Bob Solomon

    Iin the old days, before they convinced the Christians they were also, lying, deceit and fraud were known as "sin." Shamelss, debauched, ruthless, evil.

    February 6, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  22. jimatmad

    Republicans always lie.

    I don't know if you have to be a liar to become a Republican, or if being a Republican turns you into a liar.

    But Republicans ALWAYS lie.

    February 6, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  23. Ken Lord

    When you can't win on issues, try winning with fraud.

    February 6, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  24. Peter

    Given the GOP's fact checking background, I hope nobody holds back on the libel lawsuits.

    February 6, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. DougB

    Typical Republican sleaze tactic – when lies, half-truths, innuendo, and hyperbole aren't enough, throw misdirection into it in hopes of expanding their base of uninformed uneducated minions with deceived members from the other side.

    February 6, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
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