(The Secret Money blog is a joint project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio.)Anti-Obama ads, amid an onslaught of emails

Every election season, some independent groups sizzle with controversy and impact, and others fizzle. We couldn’t tell at first, but the National Republican Trust PAC appears to be of the sizzling variety.

The political action committee — founded by a trio who have tried to prove a link between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks — has new anti-Obama ads on the air and a fundraising machine in overdrive. One ad dredges up inflammatory comments by Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the other says Obama wants to give driver’s licenses and government benefits to “illegals.”

A fundraising email today said the group has raised $1 million for its “emergency effort to stop Barack Obama” and seeks $1 million more for the campaign’s final week. The email promises, “Almost all of our net dollars raised — after marketing costs — are going directly into our ad war against Obama.”

That phrase “after marketing costs” is significant. Of $903,000 in expenditures against Obama reported this month, about 56 percent, or $507,000, went to paying for fundraising emails like the one we just mentioned. Media buys and production accounted for 39 percent, or $356,000. The rest, $40,000, went to advertising, direct mail and phone calls.

Peter Leitner, the group’s treasurer, told us, “There’s a lag in reporting. We’re spending a large amount of money on the media buys…The biggest ticket item is the airtime.”

Here’s the Rev. Wright ad, which says, “For 20 years, Barack Obama followed a preacher of hate.”

This ad (below) reprises the PAC’s first one, which tied Obama’s support for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This ad continues with the immigration theme to say, “Obama’s plan gives illegals social security benefits and raises taxes for his health care plan to cover them. Who pays? You do.”

All the ads are stamped with the slogan, “Barack Obama. Too Radical. Too Risky.” The fundraising emails go even further. Another one sent out today says, “Barack Obama is not simply a risky choice as our next president — he is a dangerous one.”

Far from only asking for money, the ever-flowing emails blast out the message too: “Doesn’t he remember what happened on 9/11? More than 3,000 Americans were murdered. Doesn’t he want to prevent that from ever happening again? If he supports driver’s licenses for illegals, the answer is clear.”

This originally appeared on The Secret Money Project Blog, a joint project of CIR and National Public Radio tracking the hidden cash in the 2008 election.

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