If you support Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s bid for reelection, stay away from annkirkpatrick.com. The site might greet visitors with a welcoming photo of the Arizona congresswoman and a screaming “Kirkpatrick for Congress” logo, but that design belies its true agenda. Funded and created by the Republican Party’s congressional campaign wing, the site’s true aim is in the fine print: to defeat Kirkpatrick, described as “a huge embarrassment to Arizona.” The National Republican Congressional Campaign bought up hundreds of URLs ahead of the 2014 election cycle and has created nearly 20 websites appearing to support Democratic candidates in all but the small print, a spokesman for the campaign confirmed Thursday. The NRCC rolled out the first such site in August, targeting Sean Eldridge, who is facing a tough race in New York’s 19th district. Since then, the organization has created mock campaign sites for 17 other candidates, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Alex Sink, a candidate for Florida’s 13th district.
One Sink supporter was so confused while visiting the NRCC’s mock website that he mistakenly donated to the Republican committee instead of giving to the Sink campaign, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The NRCC said it would refund anyone who donated mistakenly.
A spokesman for Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), one of the candidates targeted by the NRCC campaign, said it’s important to draw a disctinction between satire and deception.
“I’ve certainly seen a lot of parody campaigns — websites and Twitter accounts — and I think that satire is a part of our culture,” he said. “But just actually trying to make people think you are somebody you are not I think is underhanded.”