Websites featuring congressional Democrats that were actually run by a Republican group began linking to a page more expressly describing itself as a conservative donation site this week, after a public outcry and media attention on the apparent bait-and-switch tactic.
The National Republican Congressional Committee created at least 15 websites that appeared to be official campaign sites for Democratic candidates, with a message below a big blue “donate” button that mentioned — almost in passing — that the donation would actually go to defeating the candidate.
The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this month that Ray Bellamy intended to contribute to former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s campaign online. Instead, he went to “sinkforcongress2014,” part of a group of Republican-controlled websites designed to resemble pages boosting Democratic candidates.
“After sending what I thought was a contribution of 250 dollars to Sink, I get a page clearly thanking me for attempting to defeat Democrats, [President Barack] Obama, and [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi,” Bellamy told the Times, adding that the page contained a picture of Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), leading him to call the NRCC and ask for his money back.
A CNN feature on the sites, among other reporting, preceded the RNCC’s strategic change.
Now, the donation button on the pages, like that of the RNCC’s site for conservative Democrat John Barrow of Georgia, lead to a different message, “The National Republican Congressional Committee exists to defeat House Democrats. Chip in today to help increase the Conservative Majority in the House.”
NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato confirmed Sunday that changes had been made to the sites.
“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 to CNN in an e-mail.