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. just me

    They can't produce a single clean jobs bill, but they lead the world in slwaze. And they're proud of it.

    February 7, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. Dorothy

    Of course the GOP would not consider setting up a deceptive web site to be wrong. Being deceptive is simply a way of life for them.

    February 7, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  3. Mahnaz

    Well of court cnn JournOlists would be hyperventilating, but it's genius. cnn JournOlists should know their pals, the RATs' chickens are coming home to roost. After all it ha always been the RATs with fake ID voting over and over again in polls, and fake RATs infiltrating Tea party rallies with fake signs to malign the Tea party. Good on Republicans to finally waking up and smelling the roses!!

    February 7, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. Cary Grant

    I'm sure the demorats would never do anything like this.

    February 7, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  5. 54StarryNights

    I'm not in the least bit surprised by this. Today's GOP lacks integrity.

    February 7, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  6. noly972

    The GOtP continues to excel at slimy, win-at-all-costs politics. Well, someone has to do it. Too bad they have to stoop to those tactics in order to win elections.

    February 7, 2014 12:57 am at 12:57 am |

    TYPICAL, and charges should be filed for vote tampering!!!!!!!!

    just like the RepubliCON running in 4 States...he says he will move to the one that chooses him.

    February 7, 2014 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  8. mc6809e

    Hmm. I think the URL for a website is distinct from the website itself.

    This doesn't look at all like a case of fake websites.

    February 7, 2014 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  9. oliver

    Unbelievable. I guess when you don't have a platform or plan for Americans, the next best thing is to cheat them. Who would ever vote for any candidate that would resort to such tactics?

    February 7, 2014 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  10. Dave

    That's not "cleverer," just sneaky, underhanded, dishonest, and unprincipled. The GOP is the party of liars, grifters, and lunatics.

    February 7, 2014 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  11. Frank

    Right up there with "legitimate rape" and shutting down the government. Keep up the good work, boys. We're watchin' ya.

    February 7, 2014 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  12. stevetall

    The weasel factor is high with the Republican Party. Any lying, cheating, stealing, or buying is OK with them. Too bad for them, but good for the rest of us, their ideas are outdated, self-centered, and just plain false. Luckily, there aren't as many stupid voters out there as the had hoped. Time to raise the tax rates on these rats and put them back in their place. They are no better than any one else, just better able to contribute more to the society that has rewarded them so handsomely.

    February 7, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  13. Wow!

    This is absolutely horrible. How does anyone think such a party deserves to be in power?

    February 7, 2014 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  14. Tommy Mack

    When you can't win with real ideas, use trickery! Karl Rove and the Koch brothers are beaming! Seriously, with severe gerrymandering and voter suppression, the Republicans truly have shown that they are bankrupt.

    February 7, 2014 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  15. Doug from Seattle

    Just when you thought the repugs couldn't stoop any lower ...

    February 7, 2014 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  16. Captain Tom

    Nice way to act. Great example to our children.

    February 7, 2014 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  17. eddie

    This is fraud and should be charged. another way to steal money from the working class,and try to steal the election.

    February 7, 2014 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  18. DKaru

    What's next...politicians making promises they have no intention of keeping? Oh no. Say it aint so....

    February 7, 2014 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  19. John

    Cool story bro.

    February 7, 2014 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  20. Robert Irwin

    It saddens me that people and political parties must resort to underhanded and shady practices to win elections. Is this something new? No, of course not. But maybe one day we will get good political parties with good men and women in them who will stand on their own convictions to win elections. I await the day when both the GOP and the Democrats finally get ousted. Political Parties that are over 150 years old need to be changed out.

    February 7, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  21. Fraud Alert!!!

    Oh, and politicians also have the right to telemarketing because they are a political organization, even though it is supposedly illegal for everyone else. However, the "National do not call list" is also a JOKE and has never seriously been policed by the FTC and other enforcement agencies!

    February 7, 2014 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  22. Dandy

    Hmmm... two can play that game!

    February 7, 2014 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  23. southmost

    Okay, so they're resorting to pfishing schemes to raise money. It's actually a perfect encapsulation of their view on personal responsibility: "We'll push our agenda in sneaky and deceptive ways, and if you actually fall for our tricks, then you really have only yourself to blame."

    February 7, 2014 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  24. Smarterest Human

    Just like Watergate...

    February 7, 2014 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  25. Jo

    "Well, we are very proud of this program.”


    They're very proud of being liars?

    February 7, 2014 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
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