The chief banking aide to Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) testified yesterday that Cranston never asked her to check into federal regulators' complaints about savings and loan executive Charles H. Keating Jr. when Cranston intervened on behalf of Keating's troubled Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Nor did Cranston ever ask her to investigate Keating's claims of unfair treatment by the regulators, Carolyn Jordan told the Senate ethics committee on its 16th day of hearings into the propriety of five senators' intervention for Keating, a major contributor to their political campaigns and causes.

The senators under investigation are Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) and Cranston.

During a full day of questioning, Jordan, a veteran Cranston aide, denied she ever tried to pressure regulators to go easy on Lincoln and said she called the regulators in May 1988 to express Cranston's "concern" about a pending regulation without consulting him in advance.

Her denial contradicted testimony last week by a senior regulator, William K. Black, who told the panel that her phone call to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board resulted in delaying government seizure of Lincoln, whose collapse is costing taxpayers an estimated $2 billion.

She said she told the regulators Cranston was concerned because she felt confident that he was. "That's a fairly innocuous term. Of course, he was concerned," she said.

At another point, she said she acted without Cranston's knowledge to insert a statement in the Congressional Record about an amendment to the 1987 thrift bailout bill that was later used by Keating in an unsuccessful legal challenge to a regulation that he opposed.

These statements -- and Jordan's repeated inability to remember key details of meetings, telephone calls and other conversations -- drew scowls from several committee members and an expression of exasperation from the committee's vice chairman, Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.).

"The witness obviously has very good recollection about some things and very poor recollection about others. I think we've got to guard against just getting totally meaningless answers," he observed tartly.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) seemed incredulous at the idea that aides would insert remarks in the Congressional Record without a senator's knowledge. "Did he approve that going in the Record?" Helms asked. "No, he did not," Jordan responded. "So just staff members put it in without his knowledge?" asked Helms. "That is correct," Jordan said.

Committee members also questioned Jordan extensively about her expense-paid travel in April 1987 to the Phoenix headquarters of American Continental Corp., parent firm of the California-based Lincoln. Although her travel was paid by a California thrift group, she stayed three nights at the Camelback Inn and dined several times at the Keating company's expense, which she said was in accord with Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee policy regarding such trips.

The trip came four days after a meeting between the five senators and federal regulators -- briefly attended by Cranston -- during which the regulators said they were referring the Lincoln case to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. Jordan said Cranston was unaware of her trip and she was unaware of the criminal referral at the time.

During her sometimes contentious testimony, Jordan said she was unaware of contributions totaling nearly $1 million from Keating to Cranston's campaigns and voter registration groups until she read about them later in the press. At no time, she said, was she told by Cranston of the contributions or led to believe she should favor big contributors in her work.

Unlike aides to at least two of the other senators, she said she never sensed that Keating spelled trouble and warned her boss to beware of him. "It was not until the very end that questions arose about what they {Keating and his associates} were doing," she said.

Defending Cranston's failure to check into Keating, she said it was not unusual to act on a constituent's behalf without checking such information because such information is often unavailable to members of Congress. She said she did not know of any attempt by Cranston to push for hearings by the Senate banking committee, of which he was a ranking member, saying hearings had already been held in the House.