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. outawork

    Sound really clever to me.

    February 6, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. em

    Shades of tricky Dick. The Republican party never changes. Once unethical, always unethical

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Seems like the GOP stole a page out of the democrat's hand book of deception. Finally the GOP is trying to even the playing field. I guess the liberals are upset that they're using their own tactics against them.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Thomas

    It's official! There is NO LIMIT to how low the Republicans will stoop to deceive the American people.

    "Tax cuts for the wealthy stimulates the economy!"
    No they don't.

    "Iraq has WMDs in violation of UN resolutions!"
    No they didn't.

    "Obamacare will lead to Death Panels"
    No it hasn't.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. Bruinsfan1969

    Nixon's dirty tricks team would be proud

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Have you ever known a person who was just a complete liar? And I mean, a person who lied all the time to everyone about everything? Chances are, this person also had one other characteristic that is noteworthy. They frequently accused other people of being liars! -–> GOP

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. evil_NRCC

    Typical of Republicans and NRCC. They believe the electorate are stupid and should be manipulated for their own purpose.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Scott

    Be very wary of Democrats voting for your dead relatives. Oh. Cnn doesn't take to that, when real Democrats are convicted and jailed for it.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. bigdoglv

    You know this one is gonna bring em to the troughs.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  10. Mike

    The truth is very simple. The Republican Party is grotesquely dishonest. From the absurd "trickle down economics" to "the job creators", to the present example of these fraudulent adds, they will unashamedly lie and deceive to fool their base and anyone else who will listen.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  11. Paul L

    Not surprising. Today's GOP doesn't want to run on the issues, so they go for below-the-belt tactics. Suppressing the vote from non-whites and college students; setting up phony and deceptive websites, using lowdown smear tactics that are often based in lies, screaming "Benghazi" and "Obamacare Socialism" without offering a coherent set of ideas on national security or healthcare.... the list goes on.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. IMeanReally

    Hey...good idea. The Dems have been deceiving the public for several years now. Benghazi, IRS targeting, Obamacare, Fast/Furious, etc., etc. Time to taste their own medicine.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. Marc

    Wow, the GOP is beyond sick!

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. David

    What!? WHAT!? How is it that the Republicans could ever think this is a good idea!? This party is doomed.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. duke

    hmmm, I guess this whole idea about standing on "principles" is a fraud as well... not that everyone doesn't already know of from this party.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  16. Mike in Seattle

    This goes along the same daily lines where the politicians fake out the Amercian people that they're actually doing something.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  17. jan

    No problem. I'll just vote the straight Democrat ticket. Too bad, I;d like to know how some GOP candidates stand on local and state issues, but if they buy into this deception, it sill the straight Democratic ticket.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Hillary what does it matter Clinton

    Gotta love the Corruption of the Liberal media! Such bias and distaste for anyone with differing views. Progressives are disgusting and so is the major news networks including Fox! Just outright disgusting the way they push the agenda of the progressive machine down the throats of sheepish Americans! Hopefully people wake up some day! The GOP and the Democrats are pure evil.. The only hope for restoration of American Values is the Tea Party or Libertarians.. If you cannot see this then you are the sheep!

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Craig

    I guess this displays the thinking of the GOP. They cannot, or at least will not, offer specific plans, proposals, or bills to confront the problems of our society, and the people don't like it. Rather than address those shortcomings, they resort to lies, spin, and now outright fraud in an attempt to hold on to whatever power they still have. And...according to Greg Walden, they're proud of this mess of subterfuge!

    They will attempt to win in whatever way possible, and lacking anything positive to propose, they have resorted to blatant attempts to disqualify likely Democratic voters and even to steal money from Democratic supporters though a program of open FRAUD. If these actions were carried out by a corporation, they would be illegal. Why do we continue to tolerate these idiots?

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  20. under a rock

    What a wonderful idea the Republican came up with. It truly expresses the concern of their agenda and how well money are being spent.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  21. Opinion Says...

    So BOTH parties Democrat & Republican do the same thing, according to the article, imagine that.....
    I have a feeling that this will help the GOP more than Democrats though.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Talk about asking the real slim shady to stand up.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. Peter

    Obviously, the public trust is nothing the GOP is interested in. Nothing is sacred if it stands in the way of winning votes.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. IMeanReally

    Hey...good idea. The Dems have been deceiving the public for several years now. Benghazi, IRS targeting, Obamacare, Fast/Furious, etc., etc. Time to taste their own medicine. If "people can see right through it" then no harm, no foul.

    February 6, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  25. Charles Enchill

    One of many reasons people have lost faith in politics..

    February 6, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
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