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. Paul

    Shame. I have no hope left for this political system...especially the republicans.

    February 7, 2014 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  2. Albert911emt

    The GOP, the "family values" party, sees nothing wrong in lying to voters with fake democratic websites. What a surprise.

    February 7, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  3. joe

    not sure how a web site that says "Had enough of John Lewis? Sign up Today" can be mistaken for a pro Lewis-D site

    February 7, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  4. Alan

    Dishonest and proud of their dishonesty.

    Games playing should have no place in elections. The RCCC really should be ashamed.

    February 7, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  5. VVVVV

    If you read the website it's clearly not being deceptive and is openly against the candidate. If you don't read it then it's an advertisement for the Democrats. Not really that big of a deal.

    February 7, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  6. Jimmy Dean

    Gerrymandering, now this... how about offering a superior product and let the "market" decide? GOP = moral bankruptcy. My comments in no way approve of or endorse the democrats.

    February 7, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  7. Ricky Gibson

    There's an old saying–just when you think you've created something foolproof, someone will come along with a better fool.

    Update–just when you think politics can't get any more disgusting and disgraceful, someone will come along with a Republican.

    February 7, 2014 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  8. Kevin

    Lack of character is the hallmark today's GOP. Shameless tactics will only make people so disgusted as to NEVER vote for any GOP candidate in any capacity anywhere. If honest republicans do not denounce this ploy and shun it completely they will certainly pay the price at the polls.

    February 7, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  9. longtooth

    If you speak truth, why do you have to lie ?

    February 7, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  10. humtake

    Rofl. Both sides have been doing this since the Internet became a household service, and yet CNN STILL tries to blast Reps even when the article itself acknowledges both sides do it. Sad, sad state our news media is in these days.

    February 7, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  11. Rina

    Wow. Up to playing dirty tricks again? No surprise there. Only it will backfire in their faces just like it did in the last election. The next GOP president hasn't even been BORN yet thanks to these fools.

    February 7, 2014 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  12. ken

    Now here is a suprise Repubs. cheating again, creating a fake site. If they spent this much energy in actually doing work we might actually get somewhere.

    February 7, 2014 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  13. Ronald Noe

    The last cry of a dieting Political Party! The GOP are Done!

    February 7, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  14. Goose66

    That's crap. The DCCC needs a good lawyer and a hundred or so UDRP proceedings.

    February 7, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  15. Eddie B

    The republicans have truly become the corrupt party of our country. I can not believe this is not against the law.

    February 7, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  16. Say What?

    "It may sound deceiving, but Scarpinato insists the well-thought out, well-planned program is pure genius."

    Maybe because it is?! And since its asking to donate...I think FCC, or the Election Boards, or maybe even law enforcement. This sounds illegal....

    February 7, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  17. Roxy

    at least they are honest..... 2 can play at this game is their philosophy

    February 7, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  18. navaJohn

    That's low. The GOP has gotten really really rotten the past 20 years. This is not how a major US political party should operate. I *USED* to be a Republican but no more. Vote them all out.

    February 7, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  19. Diana

    Just another way Republicans can cheat, steal and lie. THey have no ethics or morals. What a waste of humanity.

    February 7, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  20. EddyL

    Right-winger slime will stop at nothing to win..... NOTHING.

    February 7, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  21. J

    cant win on their own merits so lie. The republican party is hitting new lows all the time. So sad. So very sad for America.

    February 7, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  22. Jon

    "Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary" Scarpinato? It sound like the mafia have taken over the Republican party.

    February 7, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. TSRVT

    Just when you thought they couldn't sink any lower. Is it any wonder that we decent people abhor the GOP/TP?

    February 7, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  24. okiejoe

    Well, this is a new low for the RNCC. This is another form of election fraud which the extreme right has become very good at. The next thing will be to hire goons who look like Democratic candidates to run around breaking windows and assaulting voters. The fool who thought of this should be fired.

    February 7, 2014 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  25. Jim

    This is another example and a new form of the Republican party lying to the public to get votes.

    February 7, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
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