Ray Bellamy said he wanted to make a political contribution to Alex Sink and a Google search landed him at contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com.
"It looked legitimate and had a smiling face of Sink and all the trappings of a legitimate site," Bellamy, a doctor from Tallahassee who follows Florida politics, wrote to the Buzz. (Sink's actual site is alexforcongress.com.)
What Bellamy overlooked was that the site is designed to raise money against Sink. "I failed to notice the smaller print: Under 'Alex Sink Congress' was the sentence 'Make a contribution today to help defeat Alex Sink and candidates like her,' " he said.
"After sending what I thought was a contribution of $250 to Sink, I get a page clearly thanking me for attempting to defeat Democrats, Obama, and Pelosi. The new URL is nrcc.org/contribute/thank you and a photo of Greg Walden, Republican Congressman-Oregon 2nd District."
Walden is head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC has set up similar sites for other candidates, according to an NBC News report. And National Journal last year reported on other misleading sites, which experts said could violate election rules.
The NRCC defended the sites, pointing to the disclaimer at the bottom, but said it would refund donations of anyone who thought they were misled. Bellamy said he had trouble getting his money back.
"I got an email from Eric Cantor this am urging some action related to Pelosi and it had their phone # so I called them. The receptionist Kate, who would not give her last name, and would not transfer me to the Finance Dept., said the NRCC let credit card companies handle such requests. She would not refund my money. My credit card company is mailing me papers to register a complaint or challenge the charge."
By Monday afternoon, the NRCC said Bellamy's donation was being refunded. Bellamy said Tuesday he was waiting to hear that himself. "I don't consider myself naive," he said of being tricked. "A photo unflattering is a tipoff but this was flattering."
Democrats have their own misleading URL: Jollyforcongress.com, though the site is clearly against Sink's Republican rival, David Jolly.
Rubio raises $1M in quarter
Sen. Marco Rubio raised $1.1 million for his re-election campaign and his PAC in the last quarter. That brings his total 2013 haul to an impressive $8 million, an aide reported.
Terry Sullivan said Rubio has $2.3 million in cash on hand for the 2016 election and $307,000 in cash in the bank for his Reclaim America PAC.
In a sign of Rubio's efforts to grow a national fundraising base (which would come in handy should he run for a different office in 2016), Sullivan boasted on Twitter: "Over 69,000 donors from 50 states contributed to @marcorubio in 2013."
GOP field of candidates grows
Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, officially declared herself a candidate for Florida's 19th Congressional District on Monday after sending strong signals for weeks that she would.
The seat was vacated by Trey Radel, who resigned after being arrested buying cocaine in Washington. Benacquisto joins a growing field of Republicans, including Paige Kreegel and Curt Clawson. The primary is April 22. The general election is to be held June 24.
Naming ceremony at VA site
Bay Pines VA Medical Center will officially commemorate its name change in honor of the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young on April 25.
The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on the grounds of the medical center campus at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. The new name is the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.