OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – New Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond says his office will work with the OSBI in the state park restaurants scandal.

“Swadley’s involves a broad swath of allegations that affect all 77 counties, all taxpayers,” said Drummond of the decision to join the OSBI in their investigation.

“Once OSBI completes its investigation, then we’ll merge that with what Auditor [Cindy] Byrd has discovered and immediately and dive deep into these issues and come up with either a decision to prosecute or a decision to refer and report.

Officials say Swadley’s Bar-B-Q entered into an exclusive contract in March 2020 with the Oklahoma State Department of Tourism and Recreation to provide restaurants at five state parks.

In 2021, two additional state parks were added to the contract and one was removed.

In April of 2022, the state canceled its contract with Swadley’s after allegations of fraudulent activity and improper bidding practices came to light.

Tourism and Recreation Director Jerry Winchester resigned from the agency and the state filed a lawsuit against Swadley’s for breach of contract.

In all, Swadley’s received $16.7 million from the state to renovate and operate the restaurants.

Swadley’s filed a countersuit against the state.

It stated that the state’s lawsuit “merely seeks to pass the blame onto Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen for in-state political bickering and sensationalism.”

The suit added that “the state will happily throw its private business partners under the bus at the slightest hint of negative political sensationalism and rhetoric.”

Now, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond says his office will assume responsibility working with the OSBI on the investigation, saying the change came after conversations between Drummond and Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna.

“This case includes allegations of fraud involving millions of dollars in taxpayer funds,” Drummond said in an earlier release.

“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.”

A representative for the OSBI said the agency could not comment due to the open investigation.

Similarly, current leadership for the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation told KFOR would not be appropriate to comment on the matter since they were not involved in the contract procurement process.

Drummond said because there is an associated statute of limitation that could be related to future charges, if a misappropriation of funds is identified, the office will immediately move forward with appropriate action, in case taxpayer money can be recovered.

“On a more macro level, I think what it sends is a signal to all state actors, be they vendors, government employees, appointees [or] elected officials, [is] that if you’re dealing with the state’s dollars treat [them] with a high fiduciary standard, what you want to do with your personal dollars or your business,” he added. “But what you do with my tax dollars is the state’s business.”

KFOR reached out to Swadley’s legal team for comment but has not heard back yet.