Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley Discusses History of Oversight: The Teapot Dome Scandal

Jul 05, 2018

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has a long record of conducting government oversight to ensure the government of and by the people works for the people. In today’s video, Grassley details the Teapot Dome scandal, a series of bribes and cover-ups in the Harding administration that shaped Congress’s role in government oversight. The video can be found here and the text can be found below.

Congressional oversight isn’t glamorous. The work is tedious and time-consuming. Take it from me. It’s dog-gone frustrating to butt heads with the federal bureaucracy. And doing it over and over again to get the job done.

Fortunately for taxpayers, I’m the kind of watchdog who doesn’t give up when someone tells me to butt out. As an elected representative, the people’s business is my business. So, when I sink my teeth into a meaty bone marbled with wrongdoing, I don’t let go until I get answers.

Our system of checks and balances is vital to self-government. Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress with legislative, oversight and investigative responsibilities to hold government accountable.

Let’s consider the infamous Teapot Dome scandal way back in the 1920s. So, nearly a century ago, it exposed corruption at the highest levels of government. It involved bribes, cover-ups and sweetheart deals between well-connected oil interests and people in the President’s Cabinet.

The scandal underscores the vital work of checks and balances. Congressional investigators at the time led to a Supreme Court ruling in McGrain v. Daugherty in 1927. The highest court in the land recognized that Congress has the entire power to conduct investigations, and that includes the power to compel testimony, issue subpoenas and hold witnesses in contempt if they failed to comply.

The Teapot Dome scandal reminds us that corruption and secrecy poisons the waters of good government. It affirms why it’s so important to allow independent and congressional investigations to pursue the facts and run their course.

That’s how we uphold the rule of law, hold wrongdoers to account and restore public trust in government “of, by and for the people.”

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