Crooked Cabinet Member Sentenced to Prison for Fraud
As part of our scandal series, does anyone doubt that there has been political scandal involving oil? smh
The Teapot Dome scandal was an early example of the military industrial complex, when an elected official uses his/her political influence to secure military-related business deals that are advantageous to his/her own pocketbook. Between 1921-22 President Warren G. Harding supported the efforts of his Secretary of Interior (Albert Bacon Fall) who leased Navy petroleum reserves in Wyoming and California to private oil companies at low rates – without competitive bidding. The lease terms were very favorable to the oil companies, which secretly made Fall a rich man (over $6 million today). He attempted to keep his actions secret but forgot that officials might suspect his recently-improved standard of living. Fall was investigated and convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies. Harding’s reputation suffered because of his involvement with “friends in low places” and he died in 1923. The Supreme Court ruled in 1927 that the oil leases had been corruptly obtained. In 1929 Albert fall was found guilty of accepting bribes, and became the first Cabinet member to go to prison. Teapot Dome would be regarded for decades as the “greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics.” A significant outcome of the Teapot Dome Scandal explicitly established that Congress has the power to compel testimony.
Footnote: In February 2015, the oil field at Teapot Dome was sold for $45 million to Stranded Oil Resources Corporation, after the U.S. Department of Interior had eventually extracted 22 million barrels of oil from it.