Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s new attorney general will take control of two more cases involving alleged misuse of public funds

Jan. 25 – Attorney General Gentner Drummond will assume control from Oklahoma County prosecutors and decide whether to press charges once a criminal investigation into the state treaty of Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, as well as a separate investigation into alleged improprieties at the Commissioners of the Land Office, begins will conclude from this.

Drummond’s office is taking over the cases from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, both agencies confirmed.

This will affect 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 of work, Drummond took on the prosecution of Epic Charter School executives for alleged misuse of public funds.

Last year, former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, whom Drummond defeated in elementary school, submitted the results of an Epic Charter Schools investigation to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to press charges. O’Connor also declined to interfere in the Swadley case.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched criminal investigations last year into Swadley’s contract with the Department of Tourism to operate restaurants in state parks and alleged conflicts of interest with the Commissioners of the Land Office, both at the request of then-Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater .

A spokeswoman for OSBI said Friday the two investigations are still active and ongoing. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office will decide whether to press charges once the investigation is complete and would oversee prosecution in all criminal cases.

The Frontier first reported millions of dollars in questionable expenses related to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s contract with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen last year.

Emails between Department of Tourism officials and Swadley executives revealed talks with the company to become the exclusive restaurant provider for state parks months before a public 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 an attorney for former Deputy Director of Tourism Gino DeMarco did not respond to requests for comment.

OSBI, at Prater’s request, opened another criminal investigation into the Commissioners of the Land Office after allegations of embezzlement of taxpayers’ money, conflicts of interest and abuse of office by a state official emerged.

The Tulsa World reported last year that then-Secretary of the Land Office Commissioners Elliot Chambers fired an internal auditor after investigating a potential conflict of interest with Victorum Capital, a company the agency had hired to manage its direct investments . According to the report, Chambers also had personal investments in the company.

Neither Chambers, who resigned in August, nor his attorney responded to a request for comment.

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