Teapot Dome Scandal The “Teapot Dome” scandal was an oil bribery during President Warren G. Harding’s term. The reference to the teapot comes from the teapot-shaped boulder that overlooks an oil field in Wyoming In 1921, by executive order of President Harding, control of Naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming and at Elk Hills, California was transferred from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. The oil reserves had been set aside for the Navy by President Taft. In 1922, Albert B. Fall, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, “leased” (without the standard competitive bidding), the Teapot Dome fields to Harry F. Sinclair, an oil operator, and the field at Elk Hills, California, to Edward L. Doheny. These transactions later became the subject of a Senate investigation. It was found that in 1921, Doheny had lent Fall $100,000, interest-free, and that upon Fall's retirement as Secretary of the Interior, in March 1923, Sinclair also “loaned” him a large amount of money. The investigation led to criminal prosecutions. Fall was indicted for conspiracy and for accepting bribes. Convicted of the latter charge, he was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000. In another trial for bribery, Doheny and Sinclair were acquitted and Sinclair was subsequently sentenced to prison for contempt of the Senate and for employing detectives to shadow members of the jury in his case. The oil fields were restored to the U.S. government through a Supreme Court decision in 1927. The large amount of media attention that it generated probably made it the first true symbol of government corruption in America with the next major scandal being the Watergate.