(The Center Square) – A fiery debate between gubernatorial candidates Joy Hofmeister and incumbent Kevin Stitt on Wednesday night volleyed between questions about smoking marijuana to an investigation into a restaurant known for its smoked meats.
Stitt challenged a moderator’s statement that $17 million was overpaid to Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen that once operated four restaurants in Oklahoma’s state parks.
“That’s simply not true,” Stitt said. “The vendor overcharged us. There’s a lawsuit against that vendor. But to say that the taxpayers lost $17 million is untrue.”
A report earlier this year by the Legislative Office for Fiscal Transparency found examples of excessive overspending that includes 164,903 miles in travel expenses for one month. The restaurant chain spent $11,000 for a cheese melter, but LOFT found the same manufacturer sold one for $5,500. The report led to the resignation of Jerry Winchester, the head of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
The state is suing Swadley’s and a criminal investigation is ongoing.
Stitt said his administration is transparent with the taxpayer’s money.
“That’s why we’ve built this largest savings account,” Stitt said. “That’s why we are holding government accountable. So yes, we will hold these vendors accountable.”
Hofmeister accused Stitt of passing the buck and squandering $12…