Democratic chief seeks probe of right-wing PACs

Democratic national chairman Charles Manatt will name a panel to investigate the "evil influence" of conservative political action committees waging negative campaigns against liberal candidates. He challenged his Republican counterpart to join in a bipartisan inquiry, and GOP chairman Richard Richards agreed in part.

Mr. Richards said the Republicans will appoint a committee in June to study campaign-law reform, including expenditures by independent groups. He said he would be glad to talk about a bipartisan approach.

Last week, Richards criticized the conservative organizations, saying they "create all kinds of mischief." But his comments were undercut by President Reagan's chief political adviser, Lyn Nofziger, who was quoted as saying he didn't mind if such groups softened up Democratic candidates with negative campaigns.

Groups like Moral Majority and anti-abortion and antigun-control organizations spend heavily to defeat their opponents. The biggest effort on the right is by the National Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, which has marked a number of liberals for defeat next year.

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