Industry groups have raised nearly $1 million in their fight against a D.C. bottle bill initiative, while the committee supporting the measure has collected just less than $50,000, according to campaign finance reports.

The reports, covering a period from January to Aug. 31, also show that the industry group, the Clean Capital City Committee, has paid much of its $936,753 to professional consultants and a variety of politically active people, groups and churches in the District -- including relatives of at least two D.C. Council members.

"Essentially, they are buying their support in the community," said Jonathan Puth, a leader of the Bottle Bill Initiative Committee that collected signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

"They wouldn't need to spend a million dollars if they really had support in the community," he said.

"It's just a part of our political strategy," said Ed Arnold, director of a local public relations firm hired by the industry group opposing the initiative.

"We think it is an effective use of our funds . . . . They are not being purchased. I think it is an insult to the District of Columbia residents to think they can be purchased," he said.

Initiative 28, which will be on a Nov. 3 ballot that includes nonpartisan candidates for D.C. school board seats, would require a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers, a measure that supporters say would reduce litter and injuries from broken glass.

Opponents of the initiative, including retail, liquor and supermarket outlets, say it would increase consumers' cost, create unsanitary storage problems and result in lost business to the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, states that do not have deposit laws.

Arnold said bottle bill supporters have focused on the money being spent by his group to avoid discussing what he said were harmful effects of "forced deposits" on containers. "The key here is getting our message out," he said.

According to the report released yesterday, the industry-backed committee has paid $188,000 to the polling and consulting firm of Reese and Associates, $35,000 to Arnold & Co. and $58,000 to Jones, Moreland & Schneiders, which is partially owned by Phinis Jones, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.

Jones' consulting firm since has been dismissed by the industry committee, according to committee officials.

The industry group, meanwhile, also has contributed funds to the Republican Party and to efforts to promote statehood for the District.

Harry Thomas Jr., a businessman and son of council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5), received about $6,000 for campaign consulting, while Daria Winter, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and daughter-in-law of council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), was paid $500 as a ward coordinator.

"The way I look at it," said Puth, whose group favoring the bottle bill has depended largely on volunteer efforts, "the source of {the opponents'} money is more important than who they are hiring."

"They have local people representing national companies . . . ."