State Democratic Party leaders expressed concern here today that next weekend's Democratic fund-raising telethon may not return the dividends the Democratic National Committee has promised.
State party leaders from around the country, who are meeting here this weekend, complained to members of the DNC staff that they have been asked to put up money and recruit workers without adequate guarantees of a share of the profits and that there had been inadequate time for planning the program.
They also expressed resentment toward Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., who is putting together the telethon, for poor communication and for failing to sign contracts outlining responsibilities of the DNC and the state parties.
The telethon will be aired for 17 hours on May 28-29. DNC Chairman Charles T. Manatt said here that he expects the program to raise $8 million and provide the party with 300,000 new donors. It will be seen in 41 states.
The party hopes to syndicate the program in shorter segments to raise more money over the next 18 months.
But the Democrats had to advance $5 million to $6 million to reserve television time, telephone lines and meet other costs. A number of DNC staff members have guaranteed loans of $10,000 or more to help the party make the advance payments.
State parties were required to help defray the up-front costs. In return, they were to be guaranteed half the profits and the lists of donors from their states. But delays in signing the contracts prompted considerable nervousness on the part of state party leaders, and their anger burst out here today.
"We're in a sense paying for something we're not getting," said Rick Wiener, state party chairman in Michigan. "Our piece of the bargain is not being lived up to."
State leaders complained that Brown's people in Kentucky caused the delays, and the DNC in Washington stepped in earlier this month to handle negotiations with the states. Manatt signed 28 contracts with the state parties on Thursday, three weeks after they had arrived in Kentucky, according to one DNC official.
Some of the delay resulted from unsuccessful negotiations between Brown and pollster Patrick Caddell, who later pulled out of the telethon.
"We do things backward, upside down, and then we do them again," said Sam Goddard, Arizona Democratic chairman.
Michael Steed, DNC director, told the state party leaders that they would be "absolutely delighted" with the telethon, which is being produced by Russ Reid Associates of Pasadena. Much of the show has been pre-taped, in part because some celebrities refused to spend their Memorial Day weekend waiting around to be on a live show.
Steed also tried to allay fears of state leaders that it would be a financial bust. "The risk is minimal, based on past performance," he said. CAPTION: Picture, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Charles T. Manatt expects program to raise $8 million.