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. Name

    They aren't fake sites. They are sites about the candidates with information the voters will probably want to see. What is fake about that?

    February 7, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Tony

    Republicans always complain about voter fraud. Now it is clear that Republicans know about voter fraud, because they practice it.

    February 7, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Who Am I

    @ CNN: I think FRAUD as a strategy by any party is news. And they're proud of it. Please be outraged at the GOP.

    February 7, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Rob

    Wow! Liberals actually believe this? Doesn't this seem more like something ACORN, the SEIU, the IRS, DHS, HHS or OFA might get caught doing? Isn't the liberal president the winner of the "liar of the year" award? Sadly you people believe this coming from a network, that gets their news from the white house press office. The list of Obama lies is too long to list.

    "WMD, Death Panels, takers vs. job creators, the "horror" of Obamacare, and the ultimate fabrication: accusing the Democrats of being bigger liars than they are."

    I love these lies! Can we say that they're not lies? Saddam used WMD's and moved them to Syria. Death panels are written in the ACA as end of life support groups. The US has less people insured than before the ACA's sign up period, due to it's forced cancellations. Prices for insurance have sky rocketed. It's proven that job creators are paying the taxes, wages and now insurance premiums of the Obama voting class.

    February 7, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. rs

    The GOP has died. Can someone please haul the body away?

    February 7, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Siestasis

    If you cannot win fair and square CHEAT, the motto of the ethically challenged GOP.

    February 7, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Frank

    Tricks? This is something, again spun up and will go away like ACORN...Dems you rock!....NOT

    February 7, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Rich

    "Do Democrats do it, too? The NRCC press secretary told us the Republican strategy is cleverer, but that Democrats have done the same thing."

    Apparently people who post here cannot read. All of the indignation and insulting comments about Republicans, and the article clearly states Democrats do it too, although as expected from CNN it devotes only one sentence to it and near the end of the article.

    So, go back and update every post on here and replace "Republicans" with "Democrats and Republicans".

    February 7, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Pamela

    Just like the RNC to prove yet again that they are the party of greed, deceit & corruption. And when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, deflect blame to the other guy, just as some GOP apologists here are doing (Frank, Rob, etc.). This is absolute THEFT, from the donors & from the opponents' campaign fund. Seriously, there is not already a law against this??? The true mark of a scumbag is pride & gloating about your crime. They've been pulling these dirty tricks since I was a kid – Nixon's gang were masters. At least former RNC chair Lee Atwater had the decency to apologize for his evil ways on his deathbed. I can guarantee you will never see such humility from the current crop of conservative criminals because they learned from the best.

    February 7, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Rudy NYC


    Who believes the repubs really came up with this on their own?
    It's just a take-off on what the dems were already doing.
    If it truly was "what the dems were already doing", then why is it Fox News never reported on it? Furthermore, why is that the NRCC waited a FULL DAY after demonstrating their gem to the press to expose a similarly deceptive web site that was allegedly created by Democrats?

    One would think that Republicans would be eager to point the finger first, and then respond to the offense. But, that is not what supposedly happened here. We are looking at the exact opposite. It's highly suspicious to me. Seeing how Nixon had tried to commit a burglary in order to make it look like Democrats were behind it, I think that this sort of thinking is what we are looking at here.

    February 7, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. rs

    Know Your Subject

    What's the problem? Worried that low-information voters might confuse one party's propaganda with the other party's propaganda?
    What? Worried morality might get in the way of a GOP victory?
    Hint: Your party gave up- this is all they have. They stink!

    February 7, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Malory Archer


    They aren't fake sites. They are sites about the candidates with information the voters will probably want to see. What is fake about that?


    The information itself that they post is what is fake.

    February 7, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Pamela

    If the Dems were doing this, it would be on FOX News 24/7. No mention on FOX, so that proves the RNC chair is lying yet again. Anyone surprised???

    February 7, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Anonymous

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

    February 7, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Wake up People!

    Alan Grissom what exactly are you talking about? Do you think ONLY blacks are poor and need help? What are you talking about being owned by blacks? People don't own people anymore. That ended in 1865, unless you are believing the lies spread by some that this POTUS was going to reinstate that law but flip flop it? Dude, leave Fox alone, it's frying your brain.

    February 7, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Brady

    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.

    The person that made this comment didn't read the entire article. Democrates do the samething to republicans. Both sides play this game and somehow when the republicans do it you call it cheating lol.

    February 7, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Moderate Sean

    Typical of this party....but from another Ticker article: "Republicans Criticize Unemployment Rate/Job Growth" – So, you take time to criticize job growth?? I am confused....albeit, it's not the best growth possible, but isn't some growth better than no growth, or worst yet, net job losses?? These Republicans need to start being for America and not just against the President and anything Democratic (the party, not the philosophy)!

    February 7, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    Last paragraph of the article sums up the GOP nicely:

    "Undeterred, the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks it has a winner and will create more fake websites as the 2014 midterm elections draw near."

    I think we've gotten beyond the "both sides might have did it" (no real facts shown to suggest the other side has gone this low beyond GOPer innuendo) and into the reality of what the GOP now proudly stands for.

    February 7, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Pamela

    I went to the only website the RNC chair could give CNN as proof that Dems do it, too. The url is FloridaDems.org – & they're not asking for donations for the Republican & then using it to oppose them. So no, the Dems are NOT doing the same thing. Another GOP lie, as usual.

    February 7, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. Pamela

    Why are the Repubs on here quoting the RNC chairman to "prove" Dems do it, too? The only site he gave CNN isn't remotely like theirs. It's a website for the Florida Democratic party, clearly marked as such, with some pages about Repub candidates. How on earth is that the same thing????????

    February 7, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  21. JSB

    Democrats have been doing this for at least 12 years in at least 3 states (California, Colorado and Texas) What took the Republicans so long to figure it out?

    February 7, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. RF

    AS usual GOP if you can't win.....cheat!

    February 7, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. rick7809

    I know this is true because I saw it on the internet.

    February 7, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Benjy

    Well, guess what? I was leaning towards voting for the Republican opponent of one of the victims of this subterfuge. Seriously looking at him & probably would have had I not seen this article & then researched other dirty tricks of late by his party. I can't believe I was so naive – some of that crap is really shocking, & this is downright theft. NO WAY IN HADES are any of them getting my vote ever again! And after I get done letting all my family, friends & colleagues know about all the GOP garbage I discovered (& not just in my state), I'm sure they're going to be losing a lot more votes than just mine. Theft is way beyond the pale for me. Even worse than voting down every single jobs bill the Democrats have proposed over the past several years. It's blatant & it's immoral.

    February 7, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Gabe

    I can't believe this! But I really CAN believe it. This is the same party that slanders decorated & disabled war veterans who have differing political opinions, consistently cuts veterans benefits, & denies equal rights to soldiers risking their lives for us at this very moment, all the while claiming they are "for the troops." HA!

    February 7, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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