CIO Briefing

Fake Websites Created by Republicans Spur Ethics Complaint

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 on 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," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan 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.

The NRCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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// August 27
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