Swadley’s took $1.5 million in taxpayer PPP funding…
7:31 AM EDT on May 2, 2022
I guess the State of Oklahoma isn't the only place where Brent Swadley likes to get taxpayer money!
Last night, after watching this clip of Bill Maher going full "Old Rich Man Yells At Cloud" over the waste and fraud in the $953-billion Paycheck Protection Program, I thought it would be fun to see how much our favorite local barbeque grifter took home in the racket.
Just like a chewy piece of fat in Swadley's brisket, I wasn't shocked by what I found.
In a series of loans to Swadley's Smoked Meats, Swadley's Catering and Jim's Famous Chicken, the SBA sent over $1.5 million in PPP loans to Brent Swadley's companies. All of the loans would eventually be forgiven in full:
Well, I think we may know where Swadley's got the down payment for his million-dollar ranch!
The $1.5-million doesn't include any additional assistance Swadley's may have received from the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce's OBRP program – a ride-along to the Fed's PPP that used CARES funding to give even more financial assistance to "struggling" Oklahoma businesses. I would check to see if Swadley's received some of that cash, but to my knowledge, our pro-transparency Governor still hasn't released the full list of recipients.
In addition to his restaurants, a mysterious "management" company that shares a mailing address with Swadley's headquarters – something called B&R Management – took home $677,000 in loans that would also be forgiven:
I have no clue what B&R Management does or if Swadley fully owns it, but he makes a lot of money on exorbitant management and consulting fees, so it would be smart for him to have an LLC to keep things straight. Either way, based on his impeccable record of ethics, I'm sure it's all legit and taxpayers have nothing to worry about.
(Update: According to the Ogle Mole Network, B&R Management is the holding company that Swadley's managers work for. This was apparently done to keep benefits and payroll separate.)
"So, Patrick. What does all this mean?"
Well, in case you forgot, the federal Paycheck Protection Program was a big part of the government's rushed stimulus package designed to save the economy at the dawn of the pandemic. To qualify for the program, and have the loans forgiven, businesses had to use at least 70% of the loan to cover payroll costs. They also had to check a legally-binding box that confirmed they needed the money "to support ongoing operations."
Knowing what we now know about Swadley's business practices from the Foggy Bottom Kitchen scandal, it's reasonable to question whether or not he really needed $1.5 million in taxpayer funding (or more) to "support ongoing operations" and cover his payroll and operational expenses. Especially when you consider things like...
1. BBQ Restaurants Did Well During The Pandemic...
Although some restaurants struggled, ones that had strong carryout and delivery systems – like pizza, wings, and/or BBQ joints – actually did pretty well. Plus, it's not like Swadley's or other restaurants in Oklahoma had to deal with lengthy shutdowns. Governor Kevin Stitt went out of his way to make sure that restaurant dining rooms remained open for business!
2. Swadley's doesn't serve booze...
The restaurants that relied heavily upon on-premise alcohol sales struggled more than dry spots. Since Swadley's has high morals and doesn't serve booze, that's one thing he didn't have to worry about!
3. Swadley's Catering seemed to do okay...
Sure, they may have lost out on some catering revenue due to a lack of conferences, corporate luncheons, and redneck weddings, but the pandemic also scored Swadleg's Catering some new business. Stitt’s Joint Task Force infamously spent $7,000 in CARES funding on Swadley's BBQ. Plus, Swadley's was able to cater the infamous Keep Georgia Red fundraiser that Stitt and other Oklahoma GOP stalwarts attended.
(Editor's Note: Despite their crossover connections, Governor Stitt maintains that he doesn't know Brent Swadley. Swadley, on the other hand, loves to brag about knowing Governor Stitt.)
4. Swadley's allegedly slashed employee pay...
In March of 2020, during the dawn of the pandemic, I received this dispatch from a Mole who worked as a manager at a Swadley's. According to the Mole, Brent Swadley was requiring employees to take pay cuts to stay employed at the restaurant...
I don't know if Swadley's ever restored his employees' pay to pre-pandemic levels – or if he kept it low so he could make more improvements to his big multi-million-dollar ranch – but if any current or former Swadley's employees want to update us, please contact us via the Ogle Mole Tip Line.
Although Swadley's Smoked Meats received a lot of government PPP money, Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen apparently didn't get a drop because it was a new business.
Fortunately, they didn't need federal bucks because according to this now hysterical-in-hindsight PR-planted story on KOCO, Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen thrived during the pandemic, despite the fact they now claim they weren't making any money.
At this point, I'm sure every media outlet in the state has submitted comprehensive open records requests with the State over all things Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen. When the request is filled in five years by our next Governor, can they see how much the fancy B-roll video footage of that "good country cooking" cost us?
If Swadley did stick it to taxpayers in his quest to get as much pandemic bailout money as possible, he wouldn't be the only one. In fact, he'd fit right in! As we documented last year, businesses (and churches) from all across the state made sure to get their cut of the PPP free-for-all. You can view some of the more infamous Oklahoma PPP recipients here.
Anyway, I don't know if the FEDs will take a second look at Swadley's PPP loans, or if anything will come of this, but we'll obviously continue to follow all things involved in the Swadley's Foggy Bottom Swindle.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.
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