Republican campaign group tweaks websites, makes them less misleading
February 16th, 2014
08:14 PM ET
9 years 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:

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. BeattyCat

    If the Republicans truly believe in their message(s) and what they desire legislatively, they would not need to stoop to deceptive advertising, visually or otherwise. This is a form of lying, and they know it.

    February 17, 2014 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  2. ofnature

    They should be charged with intentional credit card fraud,

    February 17, 2014 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  3. Normhombre

    When your donations are falling, when you don't have a clear record of having done anything to support the American people, when all you do is say "no", when your own house is divided, you must resort to trickery. The sad thing is that the GOP is trying to mislead and fool the American people. It will and it has backfired. The GOP is slowly circling the drain to irrelevance. Sad and possibly criminal don't you think?

    February 17, 2014 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  4. ironman59

    Keep in mind that this entire concept of "phony websites" designed to deceive is what the gop considers "ethical campaigning".

    February 17, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  5. Roger

    More examples of just how "trustworthy" Republicans really are.

    February 17, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  6. Bob

    People with $1000 to throw around should read more carefully. A lot of Americans would like to have $1000 and not even think about spending it on political campaigns

    February 17, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  7. John Merrick

    The Earth spins on its axis, Republicans are dishonest. Same thing.

    February 17, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  8. E1G1

    Translation: We, the GOP, will lie slightly less in the future...maybe.

    February 17, 2014 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  9. McDoud

    The only reason voters are split 50/50 on republicans/democrats is because of the confusion republicans inject. If people understood the issues, the republicans wouldn't have a chance.

    February 17, 2014 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  10. James

    If conservatives are so confident that the American people support them, why do they have to keep resorting to all of these underhanded tactics: fake websites, voter suppression, and expanding at-will employment to allow employers to fire people who vote against their interests ...

    The only reason I can come up with is that they know they would lose in a FAIR election.

    February 17, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  11. DemFromSC

    So the GOP is going to lie a little less now. Let me know when they actually start telling the truth. I won't be holding my breath.

    February 17, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  12. Kevin Hyer

    Seems like all GOP ads should have a disclaimer.

    February 17, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  13. Dave - Phx

    Scumbags can never win an election on issues, they have to hack voting machines, suppress voters, gerrymander districts, and flat out lie to people.

    February 17, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    Republicans are pretty much gone to dogs. They never win for another fifty years with the same old, anti-women, anti-middl-class, anti-poor, ideology. It is dead now.

    February 17, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  15. P.R.

    The GOP...fools for decades.

    February 17, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |

    the fascist republic0n party of shame ! they lie, cheat , steal and say they are the moral ones. the prolife and yet kill from state death chambers , and wage the illegal Iraq war at a cost of 6 trillion ,, they are liars

    February 17, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  17. Bernard Webb

    republicans are increasingly unable to win electins, so the level of cheating and lying is going up fast. Voter suppression, false websites, lying propaganda on Fox "News" and right-wing hate radio. The funny thing is, all that STILL won't be enough to stem the tide of history. The "wrong on everything" party is dying on the vine.

    February 17, 2014 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  18. Marie MD

    The party of family values. Start them young with the lies and innuendos and half truths.

    February 17, 2014 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  19. Michael MN

    If you cannot get elected by the issues you stand for then resort to out right lies and deception

    February 17, 2014 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. SBP

    Isn't that illegal?

    February 17, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  21. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Americans need to ask themselves what have House Republicans done for them since 2010. In 2010, they ran on jobs and you were bamboozled into believing them. In 2014, what are they running on? Jobs again! Ask yourself this: Why is the President's American Jobs Act stuck in the House when House republicans ran on JOBS???

    February 17, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  22. jboh

    Why are they misleading at all in the first place. Less misleading=better spin machine.

    February 17, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. salty dog

    Deception is their main stratagy, everything is a lie from them, everything.

    February 17, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  24. Bigdoglv

    Misleading seems to be the political way these days for both sides. Lying is the real term.

    February 17, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. salty dog

    Seems as though the gop will do anything but what you want them too, why vote for that? They've done nothing for the working class, and never will.

    February 17, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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