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. van

    I guess if you're not cheating you're not trying. So Sad what social media has spawned.
    it should be illegal.

    February 7, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. ken

    The only tactic they are good at, fooling the American people.

    February 7, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Wake up People!

    This is dishonest and deceptive, no matter which party does it. The GOP is attempting to insult everyones intelligence.

    But this is exactly how I think Willard got so close in the election last year. Oh yes I believe there was voter fraud but it was by the GOP.

    February 7, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    The whine from the GOP today is especially delightful.

    HOW DARE CNN PUBLISH AN ARTICLE REVEALING GOP TACTICS AND CHEATING MANEUVERS seems to be the major meme.

    No doubt GOPerville is very, very upset. Its been awhile since CNN stopped reporting GOP talking points as gospel not to be questioned or fact checked. When they do publish an article showing GOP true colors ... oh, but the backlash is immediately forthcoming.

    February 7, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. no name

    throw them all out of here

    February 7, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. wallym

    They aren't trying to pass these websites off as legitimate outside of the name of the website. They're blatantly mocking/satirical. If you can't figure out the website isn't really supporting a candidate when the entirety of the content is opposing the candidate, maybe participating in Democracy isn't for you.

    February 7, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. 99mystic99

    Isn't this theft by deception? Seems that this is not only wrong morally, it's likely illegal on a number of fronts.

    February 7, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. my10cents

    There are many sick people out there who do terrible things every day but most of them have serious mental issues that prevent them from truly comprehending when they have crossed the line. Unless the political strategists who conceived and implemented these plans, which use malicious deception on both allies and opponents, are seriously mentally deficient then I think we finally have found the lowest rung on the human ladder. However they are not alone because right there, hanging with them, are the action committee members who funded and approved of these plans. The disheartening reality of this story is that these people are not sick because they made a conscious and deliberate decision to act in this contemptible manner and IMO they deserve nothing but our absolute disdain.

    February 7, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  9. Draka

    From the party that brought us "swift-boating".

    February 7, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. Silence DoGood

    Reminds me of the old bumper sticker "the Moral Majority is Neither".
    And these are the folks who would be making the "moral" laws in the New Theocracy. No Thanks!

    February 7, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Alan Grissom

    Just the type story posted by Colored News Network, More hate and division of America.

    February 7, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Brian
    "National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters"

    I like how the headline implies that this deception technique is exclusively employed by Republicans.......but buried in the bowels of the article they mention, almost as a side note, that this is nothing new and Democrats basically do the same thing.
    ------------
    So it is OK if the other guy does it? I thought flexible morality was a criticism of liberals?

    February 7, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. The Dude

    Cowards. Actually, pathetic cowards would be more appropriate. How are you going to lure new voters when you get exposed for crap like this?

    February 7, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Hilman

    The American people should demand accountability from the Republicans, tell them to stop deceiving US and stop making America look like a fool before the entire world. This kind of deception is NOT going to work, just like all their Karl Rove, Koch Brothers deception has NOT worked.

    Also CNN, you need to stop reporting good news in the NEGATIVE. You also try to deceive people by saying yes millions of jobs have been added in 5 yrs, BUT not as many as expected. That's reporting in the negative and it is deceptive.

    Truth is, under Bush US lost millions of jobs, over 4 thousand US Soldiers killed in his illegal OIL WAR, millions lost their homes.....

    But you failed to report that in the negative, as it should have been. Yet, you report good news under President Obama in the negative.

    One wonders if CNN and Republicans drink from the same tainted well.

    February 7, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Unlo4

    Assinine politics as usual. If you can't win on your own merits and must resort to stabbing the other guy in the back, you don't deserve to win.

    February 7, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Alan Grissom

    It's hard for me to believe than change has turned to giving more to blacks and so called poor. PEOPLE is this what you really want, to be owned by a Black or work for a black?

    February 7, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Cruze Control

    Sue for FRAUD...the GOP is a gold mine.

    February 7, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. jack

    The fact that the RNC thinks this is a great idea just shows you how clueless they really are to the public's perception of them. This is the most deceptive and crooked thing I have ever seen in politics. It just shows you how far Republicans will go to win an election. If they are this deceptive then they will be this deceptive to their voters.............

    February 7, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Wake up People!

    To those bashing CNN as a liberal news site. You're pathetic. CNN is not a liberal site. They print articles on a regular basis bashing the Democratic party and the POTUS. So please stop your faux outrage. Because I can guarantee there is one site where this article will never be found.

    And anyone that thinks lies and trickery is ok is pathetic too. I'm no huge fan of this site but at least they attempt to be fair and balanced. Unlike another unnamed site.

    February 7, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    If you can't win fairly, cheat! That's the republican way. This is no different than a scam to fraudulently take peoples money. I'm waiting to see criminal charges filed.

    February 7, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. Yes It's Not

    How sad. Why doesn't anyone in the GOP realize that it would actually be easier to ACTUALLY change than to keep doing stuff like this? I don't get it. They are putting so much effort into trying to trick the voters into thinking that the GOP has changed, when they could have just as easily applied all of those resources into REAL change, and then they would get more votes. Are they really that incompetent that they can't see that? I don't understand why they have to go through all of these back-handed snake-oil-salesman routines.

    February 7, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. Tony

    So, Republicans think that it is a great idea to pretend to be Democrats and deceive the voters. Why can't Republicans stand up for themselves?

    February 7, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Lady Diane

    If you have noticed, our leader in the white house has managed to pare down the government into one branch, are you happy, a government with no disention to deal with!! You tell the senate president to only call up democratic bills and you have no discussions with the republican branch because once in a blue moon you elect a president who has all the answers!!!!! To seal the deal he buys votes by taxing everyone who is against his agenda including the businesses that create jobs. If you repeatedly take from the haves and do not require any effort from those on the bottom rung you sentance them to a life with no upward mobility, Ask democrats why they do not support vouchers to students in Washington, DC so children and their families could have a choice , if the government is offering such a great education there would be no demand! Education lifts the most people. If schools could teach life skills and a good work ethic instead of social engineering and which people to blame for your lot in life maybe we could have citizens with the self esteem to participate in a democracy and contribute! Spending someoneelses hard earned money creates nothing but division and resentment. Noone on this earth has all the answers, republican or democrat, but the more we are open to new ideas the better the odds that we can find the solutions.

    February 7, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. Fish

    Just more of the revolting right playing dirty because they haven't a message or anything to substantiate their existence except Wall Street greed!!!

    February 7, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. notfooledagain

    Want an example of fraud, look at B0 website.

    February 7, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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