The Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) has failed to “effectively and timely [sic] investigate violations of campaign finance and conflict-of-interest laws of the District,” according to a report released last week by D.C. Auditor Russell Smith. The audit was prompted by Washington City Paper articles criticizing OCF for permitting secret conciliation agreements whereby election law violators pay small fines but admit no wrongdoing. Such arrangements “deprive the public [of] the opportunity to know the improper conduct of elected and appointed officials,” the audit says. Since the mid-’80s, OCF has negotiated seven such agreements. The audit also concluded that former OCF Acting Director Victor Sterling, who held his post more than six months past the legal limit, was overpaid by $24,000. And the failure of Barry and Kelly to appoint a permanent director has left the agency “without stable leadership for too long.” Barry recently nominated Melvin Doxie as acting director, but this appointment awaits approval of the D.C. Council. Earlier this week, the council bolstered OCF’s weak fines. The maximum fine is now $5,000, up from $500.