State Attorney General Gentner Drummond will take control from Oklahoma County prosecutors and decide whether to file charges once a criminal probe into Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen’s state contract, as well as a separate investigation into alleged improprieties at the Commissioners of the Land Office conclude.
Drummond’s office is taking over the cases from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office, both agencies confirmed.
This will make three cases involving state taxpayer money that Drummond has taken over from Oklahoma County since taking office earlier this month. On his first full-day on the job, Drummond took over the prosecution of Epic Charter School executives over alleged misuse of public funds.
Last year, former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, who Drummond beat in the primary, punted the results of an investigation into Epic Charter Schools over to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office to decide whether to file charges. O’Connor also declined to get involved in the Swadley’s case.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched criminal investigations last year into Swadley’s contract with the Tourism Department to run restaurants at state parks and alleged conflicts of interest at the Commissioners of the Land Office, both at the request of then-Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
A spokeswoman for the OSBI said Friday the two investigations are still active and ongoing. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office will determine whether to file charges once the investigations are finished and would be in control of prosecuting any criminal cases.
The Frontier first reported last year on millions of dollars in questionable spending surrounding the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s contract with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen.
Emails between Tourism Department officials and Swadley’s executives revealed talks with the company to become the exclusive restaurant provider for state parks months before a public competitive bidding process began, The Frontier reported. The emails referenced a deal for Swadley’s to “make money from day one.”
Swadley’s founder Brent Swadley, former Executive Director of Tourism Jerry Winchester and a lawyer for former deputy Tourism Director Gino DeMarco did not respond to requests for comment.
OSBI opened another criminal investigation at Prater’s request into the Commissioners of the Land Office after allegations surfaced of misappropriation of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest and improper use of office by a state official.
The Tulsa World reported last year that then-Secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office Elliot Chambers fired an internal auditor after she looked into potential conflict of interests with Victorum Capital, a company the agency hired to manage its direct investments. Chambers also had personal investments with the company, according to the report.
Neither Chambers, who resigned in August, nor his attorney, responded to a request for comment.