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Another Dirty Trick From The Republican Party

February 18, 2014

No one should be under any illusion that Republicans and Democrats at times do not always abide by the higher calling of our better angels when it comes to politics.  But on the whole it does seem to me that there is a longer list of shenanigans and even out-right illegal acts taking place from GOP operatives.    This latest example is just the latest to cross my desk.

As dirty tricks go, this one is pretty minor, and even a bit funny:

The National Republican Congressional Committee has set up a number of websites that look like they could be a Democratic candidate’s campaign page, unless you read the fine print. They may even violate a Federal Election Commission regulation, Campaign Legal Center expert Paul S. Ryan explained to ThinkProgress.

The websites have large photos of Democratic candidates (and the photographs, unlike those in your typical anti candidate ad, are smiley and mostly flattering), and big, official-looking “[name] for Congress” graphics. There is a bit of much smaller type, and then the usual donation boxes. Except! The small type explains that you are donating to defeat this person. Here’s one of them:

The NRCC bought Google ads to send people searching for the candidates to the faux sites, which were all registered with official-sounding URLs like “domenic-recchia.com.” Then they bragged about it to donors:

After the NRCC launched three such sites, including one targeting New York Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Georgia, deputy chairman of the NRCC, wrote in a September fundraising pitch to donors, “We ruined three Democrats’ campaign launches last week and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (Pelosi’s campaign machine) couldn’t be more upset.”

As of now, there are at least six of these fake sites, all promoted with Google ads to make them appear at the very top of searches, with that barely legible yellow background (denoting paid links) that Google hopes you don’t notice. At least one person accidentally donated to the RNC while intending to donate to a Democratic candidate. The NRCC agreed to refund his donation, but obviously people who never realize they were tricked won’t ask for refunds. It may not be quite Nixonian, but yes, solid dirty trick, NRCC.

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