Five years ago, Arizona’s Politics helped report efforts by a “dirty trick” by the National Republican Congressional Committee (“NRCC”) against candidates nationwide, including the three Arizona swing-seat Democrats. The FEC finally gave the NRCC a pass and opened the file today.
The so-called attack microsites launched against Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber (and a couple of dozen other Democrats around the country) spoofed the candidates’ websites and tried to trick Googlers into donating to the NRCC.
National articles found a couple of the Arizona spoofs, and Arizona’s Politics located the third in February 2014. A follow-up later that month found that the NRCC had changed the donation pages to reduce the trickery level and to add security to its spoofs. (There are lots of images, ironies and fun facts in the older articles that will not be repeated here; please check out the links!)
One month later, national campaign finance watchdogs Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission, alleging multiple violations of election law by the NRCC.
Last month, the perpetually dysfunctional FEC deadlocked on the 5-year old case, with the 2 Republican Commissioners voting to dismiss and the Democratic and independent Commissioners voted to approve the General Counsel’s recommendation of finding a violation had likely occurred and then entering into a conciliation agreement. The deadlock simply closed the matter without any findings.
Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub today blasted her colleagues’ delaying actions and tweeted that “It’s a dirty trick one should expect from Internet trolls and hackers, but not from a national party organization. And it’s a dirty trick that should never have been given a pass by the @FEC’s Republican Commissioners.”
It’s a dirty trick one should expect from Internet trolls and hackers, but not from a national party organization.
And it’s a dirty trick that should never have been given a pass by the @FEC’s Republican Commissioners.
— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) April 26, 2019
During last year’s campaign, Arizona’s Politics also reported about how the boot was now on the other foot, and the ways that both Democrats and Republicans made changes to websites attacking their opponents, to stay far away from the (now-blurrier) line.
Weintraub’s memo decrying the Commission’s inaction can be found here.