A move by the National Republican Congressional Campaign has local Democrats seeing red over a set of new websites that appear to tout Democrat candidates.

The Republican political committee has created mini-websites for U.S. Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema touting their accomplishments and asking for donations.

However, those pulling out their checkbooks with the intent of backing the incumbent Democrats will actually be giving their hard-earned dollars to Republicans.

The tactic isn’t isolated to Arizona, either. The NRCC has created at least a dozen websites in other states similarly targeting other Democrats running for office.

Campaign staffers are calling the slick, one-page websites with their high-resolution photographs of the candidates a cheap political play, designed with only one goal in mind: to trick voters into giving money to Republicans.

NRCC national press secretary Daniel Scarpinato is proud of the mini-websites, saying voters can get information from the Republican-backed websites that is not readily available on the candidates’ sites.

“Any time we can get the truth out to the voters it is a good thing,” he said.

While the website addresses might lure unsuspecting voters, Scarpinato says the Web pages are clearly marked as a product of the NRCC at the bottom of the page.

The language on each site also suggests a Republican bias, posing the question “How out-of-touch is Ron Barber?” and telling visitors, “Barber will say just about anything to get elected.”

The fake Web pages for Kirkpatrick and Sinema criticize their continued support for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Barber’s campaign spokesman, Rodd McLeod, said Republicans have no shame in running fraudulent sites.

“They are stooping to a new low,” McLeod said.

Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell agreed, calling the tactic “a new low even for the NRCC.”

Neither campaign was aware of any of their supporters giving money to the fake sites.

Still, Mitchell is leaving the door open to a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

“We haven’t made a decision,” he said.

The campaign feels the websites are in a legal gray area, he said, with any donation clearly benefiting any NRCC-backed candidate running against the three Democrats targeted in Arizona.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.