Republican campaign group tweaks websites, makes them less misleading
February 16th, 2014
08:14 PM ET
6 months ago

Republican campaign group tweaks websites, makes them less misleading

Washington (CNN) – The National Republican group whose mission is to elect GOP House members has altered some of its misleading websites for 2014 congressional candidates, making it more clear that any contributions made through the sites will be going toward defeating Democrats, not supporting them.

CNN Special Investigations Correspondent Drew Griffin featured the National Republican Congressional Committee’s strategy earlier this month. At least 15 websites that appear to be official campaign sites for Democratic candidates are actually run by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The website changes come after Griffin interviewed one donor who thought he was contributing to Democratic Rep. John Barrow when he clicked a big, blue “donate” button on a site that looked like it was made by the Georgia congressman’s campaign. The URL read: johnbarrow2014.com.

Randy Frails, the donor, contributed $1,000 through the website, only to soon realize it was actually a site created to challenge Barrow. He didn’t see the smaller print that stated the money would go toward defeating the Democratic incumbent or the tiny disclosure at the bottom that the website was paid for by the NRCC.

The original contribution page from the NRCC's John Barrow website. (Screen shot of Drew Griffin's report)

The original contribution page from the NRCC's John Barrow website. (Screen shot of Drew Griffin's report)

Frails was able to get his money back, but the John Barrow website is one of many that uses the image of the candidate in a positive light, not the kind of image seen in attack ads. It appears at first glance to be supportive of the candidate.

The copy on the page reads like a negative ad and quickly proves that the website is not affiliated with the candidate: “Georgia families know John Barrow is not fighting for them in Washington.” NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato defended the websites earlier this month, saying the “sites are clear in terms of the disclosure and the content where we're coming from.”

The home page portion of these websites still remains online, including the disclosure, but the contribution page has changed.

For example, the big “donate” button on the John Barrow website takes donors to a new page, one that looks distinctly different from the John Barrow website and explicitly states the NRCC’s name at the top.

“The National Republican Congressional Committee exists to defeat House Democrats. Chip in today to help increase the Conservative Majority in the House,” the page reads.

Here’s an example of the old shot of a contribution page for Democratic candidate Alex Sink in Florida. The donate button now takes donors to the new page.

Scarpinato confirmed Sunday the group had changed the donation portal on the websites.

"We recently updated our contribution pages, as we frequently do, to highlight our efforts to defeat House Democrats in 2014 and prevent Nancy Pelosi from ever being Speaker of the House again,” he said in an e-mail.

A photo of President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius - who are all smiling - is also displayed at the top of the new contribution page.


Filed under: 2014 • Ads • NRCC
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. won

    GOP is one desperate pig.

    February 16, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. Alpha Deus

    How about the Dems set up a charity called "Save the George bush name from extinction and get them all to donate to the Dems to make sure we can keep the Bush name alive and well in the annals of history as the worst presidents ever...would that be wrong?....apparently not if you do it to the left..but hell, what's good for the crooked goose...

    February 16, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  3. rude

    Reminds of the time a fake "DEM" robocall went out thanking voters for his win on election day. It was a GOP trick to prevent Dem voters from voting for their candidate. They use LIES, hate and even voter suppression to win.

    February 16, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. fgarzatexas

    Can these sites be sued for using the Democrat's likeness in their initial misleading
    page?

    February 16, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. bpipal

    A politician wanting to tweak his statement of honesty is ironic.

    February 17, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  6. Big_D

    Fraud? RICO violations? Does the FEC, FCC, or FBI actually serve a purpose any more? Hello? Or do politicians get to commit fraud if they have a small disclaimer? Why have laws?

    February 17, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Big_D

    32,400? Didn't the Koch brothers give 400 million? I guess the FEC doesn't really do anything.

    February 17, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. wolf

    GOP tactics for elections:
    Collect donations through fraud web sites
    Redistrict voters to give 50 conservatives 100 votes and 1,000 Democrats 20 votes
    Ban any news outlets other than the ones we control at the GOP meetings
    Keep any possible Democrats from voting
    Try to give corporations votes
    Discourage liberal groups from voting through ad campaigns

    February 17, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  9. rhea3

    Got caught at their misleading dirty tricks, not for the first time.

    February 17, 2014 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  10. enuff

    Where is an FCC clause against false advertising? Bait and switch? Anything?

    February 17, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  11. morkoth

    If you like your doctor you can keep him,.. if you have a healthcare provider,.. you can keep it,...

    please like the republicans are the only liars,.. and i have a monkey that flies out of my butt

    February 17, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  12. Ryan

    nothin' screams scam like the Grand ol' Party! and the credibility gap widens

    February 17, 2014 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  13. MMCFE

    Wow, that's messed up. You can always count on Republicans to deliver.

    February 17, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  14. stuj

    This is one example of the many reasons I have left the GOP after 3 decades of being loyal to the party. Its not that I trust anyone in the upper levels, Dem or Rep, but it hurts more when the people that you trust lie and deceive. I can't promise to vote for the Democrats, but I can promise to NOT vote for Republicans again.

    February 17, 2014 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  15. Plain white t

    Misleading is misleading..almost the same as kind of pregnant. Politics..from the latin meaning Many....bloodsucking insects.

    February 17, 2014 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  16. Ken

    A politician who will win at any cost is not worth voting. That kind of politician can never be a great leader.

    February 17, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  17. Justin S.

    I'm glad a private industry is policing the people who are supposed to be our lawmakers.

    Hooray Freedom of the Press.

    February 17, 2014 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  18. 66Biker

    Hey, it's all good. If you can't win because you're better, have a better plan, or because you are right, it's ok to lie, cheat, deceive, mislead, defraud, bait, misinform, hoodwink, misguide, misrepresent or do any of the things that Republicons are famous for. They are above the law, after all. They can do no wrong.

    February 17, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. John Merrick

    Republicans are just being themselves. Dishonest, lying, scum.

    February 17, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  20. Jack Be Humble

    I am sure this is just a big misunderstanding. (sarcasm off)

    Every political group should be closely scrutinized. Politics in general is a game of dirty pool, money, shady tactics, money, leverage, money, and more money.

    Just because a conservative group was caught today... makes me no more trusting of similar liberal groups on another day. We should all be vigilant, and careful as to where our donation money goes. Everyone has a vote, but money can talk more loudly than a single ballot box visit.

    February 17, 2014 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  21. joe the nerd

    Kinda interesting that they are training themselves to cloud the truth
    – even during the campaigns!

    Wonder who raises kids to act like this?

    February 17, 2014 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  22. RayJacksonMs

    The DNC should sue the hell out of them including getting the records of everyone that donated on these sites. Then they should inform the fraud victims so they can all file charges.

    February 17, 2014 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  23. mos

    What a bunch of losers and crooks. Since their policies are so anti-middle class and anti-women, they have to suppress the vote and mislead contributors.

    February 17, 2014 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  24. tednugent'sdiapers

    Typical Repukes......what else can you expect from chronic liars?

    February 17, 2014 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  25. troppo1

    Typical teabaggers. Time to vote them all out. Get out and vote or lose the usa to the worse political party in history. GOP Grand Obstructionist Party.

    February 17, 2014 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
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