Presidential candidates may have a loophole to circumvent campaign spending regulations through so-called delegate committees, thanks to a deadlocked Federal Election Commission yesterday.

The commission reached no decision on whether such committees, authorized by presidential candidates, should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts on a candidate's campaign.

At issue is how closely a candidate's campaign can coordinate with delegate committees before the delegate groups become an official part of that campaign and thus subject to the spending and contribution limits that apply to federal campaigns.

But while failing on a partisan 3-to-3 split to reach agreement on the general principle of authorized delegate committees, the commission did agree that exchanging mailing lists would constitute joint campaigning and make the delegate committee an official affiliate of the presidential campaign.

The FEC studied the matter after Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) asked for a clarification on what delegate committees in various states could do without having the spending count under the limits governing his campaign.

Campaign spokesman John Buckley said, "What we wanted was permission from the FEC so that people could go out on their own and begin organizing. We wanted to find out what we were able to do in the way of providing assistance to them."