February 6th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
9 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. Anonymous

    This article belongs in The Onion, I can't believe this is real. I don't want to believe this is real.

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Chris

    I didn't expect much more from republicans though...

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. docace

    FAKE WEBSITES BY THE National Republican Congressional Committee – Typical...

    They can make all the fake sites they want that will not change what goes down on election day, Actually, it will help the DEMS. More GOP trash, more of the same GOP.

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. JoJoHo

    Would anyone expect any less from Repugs? IT's Nixon's DNA

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. Dave - Phx

    Rich people forget your agenda, start paying us better, let us spend and make you more profits instead of this garbage.

    February 6, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  6. The Truth the Light and the Way

    The ghost of Nixon and his dirty tricks lives. Good ole GOP antics at their finest.

    February 6, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  7. Nate

    Both sides just need to clean up their politics.

    February 6, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  8. rose

    cnn is such a joke, this is not a very well thought out story to begin with, and there are basic arrangement and grammatical errors. you can't have just a quote in a paragraph, and WERE is plural past tense. We're is what you WERE going for. that's an example for you. my advice would be to stop doing news stories and play Sesame Street.

    February 6, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  9. Derrick

    GOP = Fraud. So why is this news?

    February 6, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  10. Richard BillyFeng

    It is sad the GOP has to stoop so low. Faking and trickery is not going to take the party anywhere. For once just be truthful and honest and see what that will do for you and this country. You can only deceive a people so much, not all the time.

    February 6, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Gee, not shady at all.

    February 6, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  12. Jim

    This demonstrates the lack of character that has driven me away from the Republican Party over the last decade. Not that the Democrats are fonts of virtue, either, but this is what those of us who still cling to moral values call, "lying".

    February 6, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  13. tuffby

    I think it's awesome. It clearly depicts the nature of the Republican politician. Deluded and deceptive. I mean...sure..the democrats might have created a site that mocks a republican...but the one example he cited is on a democratic website. Who goes to a democratic website thinking they're going to find positive information on a republican. They are creating domains with names that sound pro-democrat with the look and feel of the actual democrat sites and are going to insist that it's clear about their agenda? I'm surprised they aren't just outright claiming to be the democrats asking for donations.

    February 6, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. Jon

    So now we have to be tricked into voting Republican?

    February 6, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  15. mcp123

    WOW...using deception and lying... how unusual. Oh wait ... that's their modus operandi.

    February 6, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. JB

    If you can't win honestly- why not cheat?

    February 6, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  17. Chris

    It's fitting that the GOP would do this given deception is the only way they can the masses to actually back their destructive policies!

    February 6, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  18. Andre

    If you cant win the right way then cheat?

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  19. Kman

    What a completely slanderous article! One glance at the sites make it perfectly clear that it is a site meant to mock the candidate. If anyone actually got it confused with the candidates official site, then they are about as bright as the biased author of this foolish article.

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. Kyle

    This is......wrong. Nothing more needs to be said.

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. AC

    GOP afterall.

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  22. Joe piblic

    Geez, did Nancy Pelosi write this "investigative" piece? This campaign idea isn't new and was pioneered by Democrats. The Clinton News Network shows it's true colors again. CNN, you're almost as bad as msnbc.

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. Jerry

    Shameless. I'm sad for America. And we are the watch dogs of democracy for the rest of the world? Shameless.

    February 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  24. Matt

    Why am I not surprised. The GOP has always been the masters of deception.

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. Jim

    We really need to do away with Democrats and Republicans and just have representatives. This party system is not working. We have a congressman in our state that has never voted against his party lines. Is that representing us?

    February 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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