Ads for the network of look-alike campaign websites run by an obscure political group appear to have vanished from the Internet on Monday afternoon, only hours after National Journal reported that the sites, which appeared similar to official candidate sites, had confused some donors.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on CAPE PAC or its ads.
The sites themselves also had disappeared as website host and domain registrar GoDaddy.com reported system-wide problems with its sites Monday afternoon.
CAPE PAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but wrote on its Twitter account that, “Our vendor’s DNS is hosted through GoDaddy. We hope to be back online soon.”
All the sites later appeared online.
The websites, ostensibly dedicated to supporting Republican candidates including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner had netted more than $570,000 from donors through June. However, the money donated did not go to the candidates pictured on the sites; instead, it went to the Coalition of Americans for Political Equality PAC, a new group run by Arizona activist Jeff Loyd.
(PICTURES: Compare the Clone Sites vs. The Official Sites)
CAPE PAC promoted its sites by purchasing Google ads, so that its sites would appear prominently when users searched for GOP officials, such as Romney.
Some top Republicans were concerned that the group was duping donors and taking money away from their candidates. National Journal spoke to numerous donors who had unwittingly given the group money.
CAPE PAC has pushed back strongly against allegations that they are misleading donors, issuing a seven-page statement to National Journal, which they also published on their website in which they chronicle their efforts to help GOP candidates and resolve any problems with donors who may have been confused. You can find their entire statement here.
CAPE PAC vowed on Twitter Monday to plow on through the election. “We continue to work to GOTV [get-out-the-vote] for Republicans in November,” the group tweeted.