The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation’s contract with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen is undergoing extensive review, including a criminal investigation and state audit.
In the five-year contract, signed in March 2020, the state pledged to pay Swadley’s operational losses each year as well as monthly “management fees”.
A state oversight board found that the tourism department paid more than $16.7 million to Swadley’s by December 2021 for various expenses, including improvements and construction, marketing services, kitchen supplies and salaries.
Related: Report: Oklahoma State Park Restaurants Cost Taxpayers Millions
On Thursday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater asked the state auditor to conduct a forensic audit of the contract.
“The alleged conduct resulted in at least $4,500,000 in overpayments to Swadley’s by the State of Oklahoma,” Prater wrote. “I previously asked (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) Director Adamas to open a criminal investigation into the matter.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Tourism and Recreation said in a statement that it could not comment on Swadley’s contract due to the ongoing investigation. He said the department worked to revitalize state parks during its work with the Oklahoma City-based restoration company.
“Over the past two years, the Department has invested heavily in updating the state park system after decades of deferred maintenance due to underfunding,” the tourism spokesperson said. David White, in an email.
Swadley headquarters did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, who serves in an advisory role to the Department of Tourism and has appeared in several videos on Swadley’s Facebook pagee, declined to comment. A Pinnell spokesperson referenced the tourism department’s statement.