Fake Websites Created by Republicans Spur Ethics Complaint

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

National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
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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