Campaign spending by opponents of Initiative 28 drew fire yesterday from consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who appeared at a news conference at the District Building to praise the so-called bottle bill that would require deposits on beer and soft drink containers.
Conyers, whose home state has required deposits on beverage containers since 1978, described the industry spending against the ballot question as an "incredible onslaught of money. I've never seen or heard of anything like it."
Nader said the industry "is on target to spend more money per voter than has ever been spent in the history of this country on an initiative campaign . . . . "
A spokesman for the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance said an industry coalition, called the Clean Capital City Committee, disclosed in a report filed late yesterday that more than $1.4 million has been raised to defeat the voter initiative and just under $1.1 million had been spent as of Oct. 14.
With more than $300,000 on hand, the industry effort against the bill could far surpass the approximately $1.2 million spent by Mayor Marion Barry in his race for a third term last year.
Proponents of Initiative 28 this month disclosed contributions of less than $80,000.
The D.C. campaign finance spokesman said that as of late yesterday the proponents had not filed a report for the latest reporting period.
Nader and Conyers also disputed industry claims that deposit laws in other states have failed to reduce litter, as they are intended to do, and instead create a bother for consumers who must return cans and bottles to redeem their deposits.
Michigan residents, Conyers said, "would think these claims are pretty wild if they heard the arguments against Initiative 28."