Monday, January 10, 2005

Appointment of Special Counsel and the Investigation of the Teapot Dome Scandal

Appointment of Special Counsel and the Investigation of the Teapot Dome Scandal. An in-depth examination of the historical model for independent investigation and prosecution as provided by the Teapot Dome scandal. This scandal happened during the Harding Administration.

From the site:

If Congress considers alternatives to a system of temporary, court appointed independent counsel, history provides an important model--the investigation and prosecution of the Teapot Dome scandal. In 1924, President Coolidge nominated two special counsel, one a Republican and one a Democrat, to investigate and pursue the civil and criminal cases arising from allegations that members of President Harding's cabinet had corruptly leased naval oil reserves to private oil firms. His appointees, Democrat Atlee Pomerene and Republican Owen Roberts, were confirmed by the Senate.

Deep concerns over the integrity of then Attorney General Harry Daugherty mobilized Congress and the President to look outside the Department of Justice for counsel who could be trusted to vigorously pursue the case. Once such counsel were appointed, Congress continued to play a critical role, aggressively pursuing the facts through a Senate committee and working cooperatively with special counsel to further their efforts. The President, for his part, offered counsel his assistance but then withdrew to permit them the necessary independence to pursue the wrongdoers. The investigation was fraught with difficulty and high drama, consuming more than six years and culminating in significant victories in civil litigation and a mixed bag of results in the criminal prosecutions. Special counsel suffered intermittent shortages of funds and for one of them, frustration with the impact of the job on his ability to maintain his law practice.

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