Vancouver anti-light rail activists got financial shot this weekend with a fundraiser to pay for legal fees in their fight against extending Portland's MAX to downtown.

The activists are leading a petition drive to bring a vote before city voters that would prohibit the city of Vancouver from spending any time or resources on light rail. (Clark County voters already shut down a sales tax ask last fall that would pay for operations and maintenance of light rail.)

Critics there are fighting light rail as part of the $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing, which would also replace Interstate 5's bridges and expand interchanges in Oregon and Washington.

The vote has been on a careening journey. First, the petition was rejected by Clark County because of too many duplicate signatures. Washington state law mandates that both the original and duplicate signatures be discarded.

So the group, lead by longtime Vancouver gadfly Larry Patella, is raising $20,000 to pay an Everett lawyer to help change the law. The group also has the backing of Washington anti-tax initiative king Tim Eyman.

"We headed into the fund raiser with a war chest of $8,712.00 and we now have $12,672.00," Patella wrote in an email to supporters.

The case, being tried in Cowlitz County, is set for a hearing on Wednesday, The Columbian reports.