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Oklahoma terminates contract with Swadley's due to 'suspected fraudulent activity'

Matt Pinnell
Posted at 12:53 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 17:46:08-04

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department announced Monday the state is canceling its lease concession agreement with Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen.

A statement from the tourism department accused Swadley's of "suspected fraudulent activity and questionable business practices."

The Frontier reported the company inflated prices for some equipment and charged the state thousands of dollars in unapproved fees while under the lease agreement.

"In early fall 2021, the department initiated an internal investigation after reports of financial irregularities were brought to our attention," the tourism department said in a statement on Friday. "Financial payments for construction costs were immediately halted in September, while management fees were suspended in December. After extensive review, it has become clear the continuation of the agreement with Foggy Bottom Kitchen is not in the best interest of Oklahoma taxpayers."

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell expressed support for the department's decision in a tweet following the announcement:

The state plans to continue to investigate the extent of the "unlawful behavior" of Swadley's and is working on a plan to replace the restaurants with new food options at state parks.

Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen released the following statement after Monday's announcement:

“Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen is alarmed and dismayed that the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, in a letter delivered by Executive Director Jerry Winchester, has today unilaterally terminated our contract and accused us of ‘fraudulent activity’ without offering any evidence to reinforce that accusation or a chance to defend ourselves. As a result of Tourism’s decision, we will be forced to eliminate the positions of close to 300 employees who have worked hard to make these new restaurants successful. We are heartbroken for these employees, and we will continue to defend the quality of our work against these unfair attacks on our business.”

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