Fake Websites Created by Republicans Spur Ethics Complaint

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington files complaint against Greg Walden.

National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
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Shane Goldmacher
March 12, 2014, 9:44 a.m.

Just as the series of faux Demo­crat­ic web­sites cre­ated by the Re­pub­lic­ans was fad­ing from the news, they are the sub­ject of a new eth­ics com­plaint from Cit­izens for Re­spons­ib­il­ity and Eth­ics in Wash­ing­ton.

The group said Wed­nes­day that it had filed an eth­ics com­plaint against Rep. Greg Walden, chair­man of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, for ap­prov­ing the sites.

The NR­CC launched a series of web­sites last year that are de­signed, at first glance, to ap­pear as if they be­long to House Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates. Des­pite the smil­ing pho­tos and of­fi­cial-look­ing lo­gos, the text on the sites con­tains bit­ing cri­tiques of the Demo­crats — along with a large “Donate” but­ton.

Na­tion­al Journ­al first re­por­ted in Decem­ber that the sites may vi­ol­ate Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion rules for con­fus­ing voters. The NR­CC has since over­hauled the dona­tion page on the sites to make it clear­er that money con­trib­uted goes to the Re­pub­lic­ans, not a Demo­crat.

“These web­sites are clear-cut ef­forts to de­ceive voters. Rep. Walden and the NR­CC need to un­der­stand that can­did­ates and parties must win elec­tions fair and square, not by hook or by crook,” CREW Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Melanie Sloan said in a state­ment.

Curi­ously, CREW, which Re­pub­lic­ans ac­cuse of a lib­er­al agenda, did not file its com­plaint with the FEC but in­stead with the Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics, an in­de­pend­ent in­vest­ig­at­ive arm of the House. The group said that it did so be­cause “vi­ol­at­ing cam­paign fin­ance laws also vi­ol­ates House eth­ics rules.”

A loc­al New Jer­sey Demo­crat­ic group had pre­vi­ously filed a com­plaint with the FEC.

“This is noth­ing more than a pub­li­city stunt by an ex­treme lib­er­al front group for Demo­crats to bol­ster their de­flated sup­port­ers after the Demo­crats’ de­feat in yes­ter­day’s spe­cial elec­tion,” said An­drea Bozek, a spokes­wo­man for the NR­CC.

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