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. Rich

    Apparently some Republicans don't believe in the Golden Rule.

    February 7, 2014 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  2. gg

    Fake websites by the Party of Goebbels

    February 7, 2014 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  3. scott

    This is blatant fraud. These are exactly the actions of a clueless group of ego-maniacs who think they can do whatever they want without consequences. This should be against the law, and should be sanctionable by the ethics committee.

    February 7, 2014 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  4. Foster149

    Because they can't win on the merits of their ideologies.

    February 7, 2014 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  5. Michael

    As a conservative republican, I am aghast and embarrassed that the party that represents my core beliefs would stoop to deception and underhanded tactics such as this. This absolutely violates my strongly held beliefs of fair play and ethics.

    February 7, 2014 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  6. BrianR73

    typical republican behavior. They will do anything to win, even trick voters...so typical

    February 7, 2014 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. steve

    that can't be legal

    February 7, 2014 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  8. Walter Amory

    Dems do the same thing but you wait until the end of the article for that part knowing most people dont get past the first paragraph. CNN the new MSNBC.

    February 7, 2014 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  9. NanaBB

    isn't this like a scam to get Democrats to make donations to Republicans? This is not right.

    February 7, 2014 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  10. brownsirts

    No surprise.

    On the other hand, still cannot find the story about the non partisan CBO report about Obamacare killing jobs and adding to the deficit. No surprise there, either. This ... is CNN.

    February 7, 2014 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  11. txan

    If you can't win on the issues, then cheat.

    February 7, 2014 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  12. Bikerguy51954

    If I ever had a reason to vote for a democratic candidate, regardless of who they are, this is it. This takes mudslinging to a new low.

    February 7, 2014 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  13. Anonymous

    What a crappy tactic

    February 7, 2014 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  14. Lisa C

    So it is OK to deceive the voters? Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary called it "pure genius".
    Why isn't this illegal?

    February 7, 2014 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  15. Mark

    I dont care what party your with, and the can spin it all they want, that is just vile.

    February 7, 2014 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  16. floydzpp

    Sheesh, the GOP just doesn't get it. America is sick and tired of this ideological psychoticism they have to win at all costs. Not because they have any ideas, but becuase they hate everyone and eerything that won't do what they want.

    The GOP is an aging, shrinking minority and unless it comes out of 1950 it is doomed.

    February 7, 2014 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  17. Justin

    Pathetic. The Republicans always lie, deceive, and distort facts to achieve what they want.

    February 7, 2014 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  18. AJ-107

    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.”

    Just like the GOP to be proud of, and brag about another one of their deceitful programs. I guess being deceitful is the only way they can win an election. Sigh.................pure genius my butt.

    February 7, 2014 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  19. troppo1

    dont know what to say.. GOP are all about lies and deciet????

    February 7, 2014 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  20. Phil

    As a registered Republican I find this to be the last straw. The values and integrity that had kept me are now gone. This is not polite political discourse and smacks of the 'dirty tricks' from past GOP adminstrations and disavowed GOP members. I would not be proud of this type of behavior as mentioned. if we cannot maintain any integrity nor our dignity then what do we offer the American people? This is childish behavior. I would thinkwe are above this. We no longer have ANY moral higher ground and I call upon the RNCC membership to repudiate these efforts.

    February 7, 2014 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  21. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    No one likes a cheater and the GOP is number one in vote rigging and sleazz. There is going to be a massive turn out in November to kick out this GOP cancer on America . GOP , keep deluding yourselves into thinking your winning because it just brings more pleasure to watch your humiliation when you LOSE the house and senate!!!!

    February 7, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  22. M

    The RNC thinks it's okay? Than I guess they are fully aware that two can play at that game. All is fare in love, war and elections, right?

    February 7, 2014 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  23. Marie MD

    Voters suppression and big money don't work so now they are lying?
    Lying? The teaklans lying? Who would have thunk it!
    Can you imagine if this is something the Dems were doing? Where's the car thief when you need him.

    February 7, 2014 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  24. josh

    uses the gullibility of human beings to promote a political agenda. gross. deceptive.

    #voteforpeople

    February 7, 2014 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  25. Matt

    STILL not earning my voter right wing! Not only do you NOT have a record you can point to that will earn my vote, you keep adding more FAIL to that record with each passing day. Your tactics are pathetic, and hardly ethical. I just shake my head!

    February 7, 2014 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
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