The list of sponsors for the recent dinner honoring Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds was a who's who of the conservative movement, from the Heritage Foundation to James G. Watt. But the engraved invitations also included an unexpected sponsor -- CBS Inc.

Some network insiders were embarrassed to be associated with such an openly political event where dinner speakers harshly attacked the "liberal" news media. But the explanation has nothing to do with CBS trying to appease its conservative critics.

Four of the $50 tickets were bought by former assistant attorney general Robert McConnell, who was the Justice Department's chief congressional lobbyist and is a CBS vice president in Washington. McConnell gave two of the tickets to former Justice Department colleagues.

When correspondent Fred Graham also bought a ticket to the Hyatt Regency affair, CBS had reached the magic number necessary to be listed as a sponsor. The organizers say they checked with McConnell's secretary and were told it was all right to list CBS.

STILL COALESCING . . . The battle over the proposed executive order on affirmative action has been great for the coalition business.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, an alliance of such groups as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Organization for Women and American Civil Liberties Union, has been leading the fight against the proposal being pushed by Reynolds and Attorney General Edwin Meese III. Their plan would abolish the goals and timetables that some federal contractors are required to meet in hiring minorities and women.

Not long ago, conference director Ralph Neas warned reporters in a memo that "the Far Right may attempt this week a press counteroffensive on the executive order."

Days later, as if on schedule, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a news conference to announce formation of the Ad Hoc Coalition Against Quotas, including such groups as the American Subcontractors Association, Associated General Contractors and Washington Legal Foundation.

Soon afterward, opponents struck back with the National Committee to Defend and Extend Affirmative Action, with Washington Mayor Marion Barry as chief spokesman. Now there is one more coalition emerging: 58 senators have urged President Reagan not to approve the order.

BAILING OUT . . . Deputy Assistant Attorney General James I.K. Knapp is hailing the results of a 1984 bail law that allows judges to consider whether a defendant poses a risk to the community as well as if he is likely to show up for trial. In the past, Knapp says, "We had continuous problems with getting high-level drug traffickers to trial . . . . No amount of bail was too high for them to pay." Now he says more dangerous defendants are being held without bail.

LEAKY BUSINESS . . . Assistant Attorney General Stephen S. Trott was left cooling his heels for several hours at the Senate Judiciary Committee this month. The panel, which is conducting closed hearings on the nomination of Central Intelligence Agency General Counsel Stanley Sporkin to be a federal judge, excused Trott and adjourned after deciding to delve into intelligence "code words" so secret it was not clear whether the stenographer could be allowed to remain.

The committee has spent 18 months examining Sporkin's role in an FBI investigation of a CIA leak of classified information. Now the panel itself has become the subject of an FBI leak investigation over the disclosure of some of the details to The Washington Times.