Washington, D.C. — Hackers, phishing scams, spammers: Americans know they’re lurking online, but don’t expect them to be fundraising for a major political party. As the leader of the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), however, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) borrowed the tactics of online swindlers with a series of deceptive and illegal websites conning donors, leading CREW’s voters to award Rep. Walden the title of March’s Scoundrel of the Month.
The websites are designed to appear supportive of Democratic House candidates, but instead raise money for the NRCC, the party committee working to defeat them. For instance, one website, johnlewis4congress.com, features a smiling photo of John Lewis, a Democratic House candidate in Montana, and the heading “John Lewis for Congress.” The NRCC rolled out at least 17 similar websites targeting other Democratic candidates, all approved by Rep. Walden in his role as NRCC chair.
“Deceiving voters to raise money is illegal. Is the NRCC so hard up it needs to trick Democratic donors to fill its coffers? If this is the best Rep. Walden can do, perhaps the NRCC needs a better leader,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said.
Federal law prohibits anyone from falsely suggesting they are soliciting funds to support a candidate when they are not. It also bars the unauthorized use of a candidate’s name unless the use unambiguously shows opposition to the candidate. By using Democratic candidates’ names on websites intended to deceive supporters into making donations to the NRCC, the NRCC has violated campaign finance law. By approving the illegal websites, Rep. Walden also violated House ethics rules.
Nominations are already being accepted for April’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by Friday, April 25th. Voting will begin the following week.