South Dakota Attorney General Mark Meierhenry charged lame-duck sen. George Mcgovern's campaign committee yesterday with trying to bribe voters on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The misdemeanor bribery charge stems from free meals furnished Nov. 4 by McGovern's Democratic campaign committee at community centers on the reservation. Meierhenry, a Republican, contends that the meals were bribes.

McGovern campaign officials have acknowledged providing the meals to encourage a higher turnout of voters, but have denied breaking any laws.

"As long as partaking of the meal is not conditioned upon voting, or voting for any person, it is perfectly legal," said Marshall Matz, an attorney and McGovern's deputy campaign manager.

McGovern refused to comment on the filing of the bribery charge.

In other post-election news, the Justice Department has opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of campaign financing irregularities involving Sen.-elect Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), sources said.

D'Amato, 43, presiding town supervisor of Hempstead, won the seat held by Sen. Jacob Javits (R) in a three-way race last month.

The probe into alleged irregularities was spawned following disclosures during D'Amato's campaign that he had been called to testify before a federal grand jury in an apparently unrelated probe.

A federal grand jury recently investigated charges that Nassau County employes were required to kick back 1 percent of their salaries to the Republican organization.