OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 22, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced today that his office will assume responsibility working with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) in the probe of potential wrongdoing involving the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation and Swadley’s Bar-B-Q.
“This case includes allegations of fraud involving millions of dollars in taxpayer funds,” Drummond said. “Beginning immediately, my office will join with the OSBI to thoroughly investigate this matter. The Office of Attorney General is the appropriate entity to determine if the findings merit prosecution and, if they do, to prosecute any wrongdoers. One of my top priorities in this office is to end the culture of corruption and scandal. Oklahomans deserve true accountability in government.”
The change came after conversations between Drummond and Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna. She has since directed the OSBI to disclose the investigation to the Office of the Attorney General.
Swadley’s entered into an exclusive contract in March 2020 with the state Department of Tourism and Recreation to provide restaurants at five state parks. In 2021, two additional state parks were added to the contract; one park was later removed.
The state canceled its contract with Swadley’s in April 2022 following allegations of fraudulent activity and improper bidding practices. During the same month, Tourism and Recreation Director Jerry Winchester resigned from the agency and the state filed suit against Swadley’s for breach of contract. In all, Swadley’s received $16.7 million from the state to renovate and operate restaurants at selected state parks.