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Senator Thomas Walsh of Montana, TIME Magazine, May 4, 1925

Senator Thomas Walsh of Montana distinguished himself by his leadership of the Teapot Dome investigation. A skilled and respected lawyer, Walsh patiently and diligently reviewed thousands of documents and carefully prepared for hearings in order to uncover the corruption related to the leasing of federal oil fields. The Teapot Dome hearings lifted Walsh to national prominence.

From TIME, 2015. © 1975 TIME Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission and protected by the Copyright Laws of the United States. The printing, copying, redistribution, or retransmission of this Content without express written permission is prohibited.

Senator Thomas Walsh of Montana, TIME Magazine, May 4, 1925

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