Lawmakers To Question Pinnell On Approved Payment To Swadley's

Tuesday, May 17th 2022, 6:53 am


A new report from the Frontier publication claims Lieutenant Governor and Tourism Secretary Matt Pinnell signed off on a $1.5 million payment to Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen without even reading the invoice.

Related Story: Pinnell Approved Payment To Swadley’s Without Invoice, Report Shows, As Lawmakers Plan Tourism Investigation

Lawmakers say they'll question Lieutenant Matt Pinnell about his role in the Swadley's Foggy Bottom Kitchen contract.

Since 2019, the Lt. Governor has been responsible for looking over the department of tourism’s expenses.

On Monday, the Frontier released new emails, which show Pinnell cleared a $1.5 million payment to Swadley's.

According to those emails Pinnell wrote, he "approved" this without reviewing any documentation.

Rep. Ryan Martinez (R) of the House Special Investigative Committee, says that's a major concern.

"There are a lot of questions, we need to speak to the Lt. Governor probably sooner rather than later to see if that is something that needs to change. My guess is that the process probably needs to change,” Rep. Martinez said.

Mariah Carter, Communications Coordinator for Pinnell’s office, said there are “prior levels of accountability and approval that must occur” before vendor invoices reach him.

“At the time of the invoice in question, the Lt. Governor had full faith in the agency director and trusted he had properly vetted the information,” Carter said in an email. “(Pinnell) feels accountable to taxpayers and certainly sees it as his responsibility to not only get to the bottom of this issue, but also make sure the proper systems are in place to prevent something like this from happening again.” 

The director of a state spending watchdog group told the committee Friday that $12.4 million of the nearly $17 million paid to Swadley’s could have been “saved” if the state “would have just specifically had controls in place.”

This week the focus will be on the budget.

The committee has not scheduled their next meeting.