When the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices meets next week to discuss changes to the Maine Clean Election Act, it will not be for a “tweak” or a minor “fix-it” project, no matter what the law’s proponents say.

That’s because U.S. District Court George Singal’s ruling this week is not “basically a technicality” as Maine Citizens for Clean Elections president Alison Smith claims. Singal blew a hole in the side of the decade-old law by eliminating the matching funds provision, and it will take some serious repair work to fix it.

The judge’s decision was necessary following a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which struck down matching funds in an Arizona law. As things now stand, a publicly financed candidate won’t be able to spend beyond the initial allotment of clean election funds. That means a wealthy candidate could bury his publicly financed opponent by spending more than what he or she has been given. The “clean” candidate would not be able to respond.

That uneven playing field is exactly what the Clean Election Act was supposed to eliminate. But the proposed fixes are also problematic.

One idea that the commission will consider is allowing limited private fundraising by clean election candidates who need more money when they are outspent by an opponent. Those candidates would have to take time away from talking to voters to raise the money and could become beholden to the big donors that helped them pay for their campaigns. Both of those situations were also targets of the Clean Election Act.

What has happened is not a court decision that requires minor changes to the law, but a series of developments that have dramatically changed the election financing landscape. In addition to the recent decision, last year’s Supreme Court decision that got rid of the limits on spending by outside groups has also upended the way that campaigns are run.

When the Clean Election Act was passed, the major concern was how much campaigns spent. Now a candidate can spend virtually nothing and still drown out his opponent’s message through outside spending.

That’s why it will take not just a “tweak” to fix Maine’s public financing system, but an extensive examination into what it will take to bring the once-ground-breaking law up to date with the new reality.