A restive Democratic National Executive Committee yesterday rejected part of a long-range plan that would have made the President's principal political adviser chairman of a party reorganization committee.
The plan would have created an 11-member reorganization committee to decide "goals, programs and the policies" of the national committee and decide on the timing of any changes. It would have been chaired by White House assistant Hamilton Jordan.
Democrat National Chairman Kenneth J. Curtis withdrew this secion of the plan after numerous objections by members of the executive committee, a 32-member stering group of the full national committee.
Vice Chairman Coleman Young, the Detroit mayor, said that he hadn't accepted his post "to become a wall decoration" and complained that the plan placed too much authority in the hands of committee staff.
The staff is composed largely of former activists in the Carter-for-President campaign. After his election President Carter followed political tradition and handpicked the party chairman, in this case former Maine Gov. Curtis.
While Carter is popular with the executive committee, its response yesterday to the reorganization plan indicated that the Democratic leaders do not want the national committee reduced to the White House appendage it became during the Johnson administration.
Though the executive committee asserted its independence from staff direction, many of the members appeared eager to capitalize on Carter's election to raise money for Democratic candidates.
Committee Treasurer Joel W. McCleary said the concept of the party's fund-raising program "utilizes the incumbency to build the party at all levels." One of the fund-raising devices contemplated by the Committee is patterned after the President's Club during the Johnson administration in which prominent fund-raisers who gave $1,000 were invited to the White House for dinners with the President.
McCleary warned that the committee must be careful not to give the appearance of granting favors for contributions.
"If the public misperceived what we were doing, it would crush us," McCleary said.
But California Democratic Chairman Charles Manatt said that all political activity had not been made "illegal, immoral or fattening" by the new campaign law. He said it was proper to give contributors pins or pictures with the President to invite them to social events.
The fund-raising plan, still very much in the discussion stage, calls for a three-tiered system of party contributors. If there is a "President Club," it is likely to be the lowest tier, composed of $25 contributors. A middle group, possibly called "the 1600 Club," would consist of $1,000 contributors. At the top would be members of the National Finance Council, including persons who raised $5,000 a year or more for the party. They would be treated to monthly seminars on issues with cabinet members.
The budget presented to the committee yesterday showed the Democratic National Committee with a $3.4 million deficit. Vice President Mondale, who spoke briefly to the committee, joked that "there's no party that treats a debt with more equanimity" but promised that he and President Carter would do what they could to help reduce it.
In another development yesterday, Curtis announced the appointment of Paul Sullivan as executive director of the national committee.
Sullivan served as the national field director for Terry Sanford's brief presidential candidacy in 1976 and worked for the candidacy of Rep. Morris Udall. He joined the Carter staff after the Democratic convention.