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“Senate Gallery Gossip—Yep, the Others are All Out Investigatin’!” cartoon by Clifford Berryman, March 6, 1924

Teapot Dome was a sensational political scandal, and its Senate investigation was national news. Cartoonist Clifford Berryman used the situation for a comment on the workings of Congress when he explained that the chamber was empty because all the members were out investigating.

Records of the U.S. Senate Collection, National Archives and Records Administration

“Senate Gallery Gossip—Yep, the Others are All Out Investigatin’!” cartoon by Clifford Berryman, March 6, 1924

The Teapot Dome Scandal

The 1923 Teapot Dome scandal and investigation concerned bribery in the leasing of naval oil reserves. Senator Thomas Walsh of Montana, who chaired the investigation, explored allegations that Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall had issued no-bid oil reserve leases, including one at Teapot Dome in Wyoming, in exchange for generous, illegal gifts. Evidence obtained through the course of the Senate inquiry resulted in Fall’s conviction and incarceration, the resignation of Attorney General Harry Daugherty, and two landmark Supreme Court cases.

Congress has plenary power to dispose of and to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the naval oil reserves, other public lands and property of the United States. . . . the Senate had power. . . to investigate and report what had been . . . done by executive departments . . . and to make any other inquiry concerning the public domain.

Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263 (1929), April 8, 1929