The 9-Member Public Finance Reform Commission voted on Tuesday to prohibit public matching funds for campaign donations raised outside of individual Senate and Assembly Districts. According to one insider, this will render the proposed statewide public matching system “completely ineffective.”

But here is what is particularly unusual about yesterday’s vote. Just last week, the Commissioners voted unanimously to allow matching funds for out of district donations. Of course, you can’t see that vote because the video from that meeting still hasn’t been posted on the Commission website, nearly a week and a half after the fact.

So, what changed? Shortly before Tuesday’s vote, the At-Large Commissioner Henry Berger sent an email saying that the out of district match should be “revisited.” Berger along with the Commissioners appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Governor Andrew Cuomo cast the five votes to overturn what they had done the previous week. The Republican Commissioners and those appointed by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins voted against it, but they only had four votes. One onlooker said The Senate’s Commissioners seemed “completely out of the loop.”

Asked to explain why he changed his mind, Berger said he’d thought about it over the weekend and come to a different conclusion, which as one observer noted seemed odd since Berger has studied campaign finance for many decades only to have an epiphany about how it should actually work four days ago? Some believe the Speaker and the Governor are intent on “gutting the whole thing.”

In district contributions would have a much higher match, forcing candidates to raise money just from those communities they want to represent, which sounds great in theory, but a 20 to 1 match or something similar also sounds very high. The New York City system of public matching funds, once considered the gold standard, allows candidates to raise money from anywhere in the City and get those funds matched. It does not limit matching funds to just in district contributions. But Cuomo appointee Jay Jacobs and others said Tuesday there is no need to adhere to the City’s model. And according to an insider, the State now seems to be “creating something that has real problems.”

That problem could be that candidates will simply choose not to opt into the public finance system. What’s more, the Commission is not currently considering any limits on what the State Parties can raise. Therefore, the parties can raise the same high dollar amounts they always have from the same exact people. Parties could then funnel that money to help individual candidates. So, in other words, that’s a textbook case of an “incumbency protection program.”

One outsider concludes: “all indications are that this will not be a workable system.”