The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department canceled the lease concession agreement with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen on Monday.
In a release, TravelOK stated that they would be ending the agreement because of suspected "fraudulent activity and questionable business practices."
The Department says they began an investigation after reports of financial irregularities were brought up in early 2021.
A state oversight committee found the Tourism Department paid Swadley's nearly $17 million for several projects including construction, marketing, kitchen supplies, and payroll. The Oklahoma County District Attorney said the state has made at least $4.5 million in excessive payments to Swadley's.
A representative of Swadley's issued the following statement:
“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.” - Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen.
Governor Kevin Stitt also released a statement on the decision:
“I support the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s actions today and will continue to always protect the taxpayers and shine a light on any corruption or bad actors in state government. From the first day I was elected governor, I directed every cabinet secretary and state agency in Oklahoma to become Top Ten and I expect that progress to continue.”