For Immediate Release
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
Oklahoma Democratic Party
Lieutenant Governor Squanders $13.6 Million on Burgers and Steaks
OKLAHOMA CITY—MARCH 23, 2022 – That’s a lot of beef and BBQ sauce down the drain on taxpayers’ dime. In 2020, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, under Lieutenant Governor Pinnell’s direction, contracted with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen to “save” a run-down dying state park restaurant industry at a failing cost of $13.6 million. Pinnell was aware in advance that this endeavor was a risky investment knowing few companies would want to take over the state park restaurant project. Oklahoma taxpayers footed the initial costs for renovations and $1 million in operating losses.
“When four out of five companies bow out of bidding on a contract, that should be a red flag that an already bleeding project is a dead-end waste of taxpayers’ dollars. If Pinnell and the Tourism Department knew that only one company was interested in bidding after the others learned of the problematic venture, why wasn’t the project scrapped or bids extended? Jumping on the one single bid without more input and proper investigation of expenses before giving to the single bidder has squandered $13.6 million with nothing to show for it,” commented Alicia Andrews, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party
“The original contract budget was $2.2 million. How did the costs blow up another $11.4 million? The claim is that years of maintenance and neglect increased the costs. You can’t tell me that Pinnell and the Tourism Department didn’t know this beforehand, but they still moved forward with the project and underestimated the cost to taxpayers with only one bid?
“Why wasn’t this bidding process more complete with better cost estimates? Why didn’t the Tourism Department put out more RFQs for price comparisons when the four companies dropped their bids? More bidders involved in the process may have exposed concerns about the more realistic expenses involved in this failed project and protected $13.6 million that could have been used on other needed services. Pinnell’s lack of vision to see down the road on the Tourism Department’s decision questions his ability to continue as Oklahoma’s Lt. Governor and oversee state agencies,” concluded Andrews.
For more information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party, visit the party website at okdemocrats.org, or call party headquarters at 405-427-3366.