GOP, Dem Donors Misled By Look-Alike Websites


Peltier's sites are two of dozens of other look-alike sites that are unconnected to the politicians and campaigns whose photographs are prominently displayed.

"It's an egregious abuse of donor trust," said Peter Pasi, a Republican consultant.

Pasi says most of the victims are donors who give smaller amounts of money in the range of $50 to $100.

"They're being scammed, duped, ripped off, whatever word you want to use, but the fact is they're not getting what they paid for," Pasi said.

As reported by Politico in April and in a follow-up investigation by the National Journal in September, CAPE PAC, came under fire after angry Republican donors discovered that the money they had contributed via websites that featured various candidates was actually going into CAPE PAC's coffers. Three-dozen websites featuring "Donate" buttons and candidate photos and issue pages attracted $570,000 from 3,000 donors.

CAPE PAC has now refunded an estimated $60,000 of the money to donors.

"It kind of makes you feel like you can't trust anybody anymore," said Richard Howlett, a retiree in Syracuse, New York who sent $250 to one of CAPE PAC's sites, thinking it was going directly to the Romney campaign.

"That's a lot of money for me and I'm angry it didn't go to my candidate," Howlett told ABC News.

The CAPE PAC chairman, Jeff Loyd, a local official in Arizona and former GOP county chairman, said his group uses contributions for "on-line education and turning out the vote for conservatives at the federal level."

"The money we raise is largely reinvested, almost immediately, back into our web campaigns," Loyd said in a statement, following publication of the National Journal report. Loyd also said that "our candidate websites, videos, and get-out-the-vote messages clearly state who we are and our mission," and that CAPE PAC immediately complies when a donor requests a refund.

"These instances have been few and far between," Loyd told the National Journal. "[We] are unaware of any issue that remains unresolved."

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