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Senate Committee to use all legal powers to investigate Teapot Dome

Harry F. Sinclair, multimillionaire oil magnate (left) and his counsel Martin W. Littleton during hearing on the Teapot Dome scandal in 1924. File Photo by Library of Congress/UPI
Harry F. Sinclair, multimillionaire oil magnate (left) and his counsel Martin W. Littleton during hearing on the Teapot Dome scandal in 1924. File Photo by Library of Congress/UPI

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 1924 (UP) - All the legal powers of the government will be called on if necessary to get the truth about the Teapot Dome lease.

Senators on the investigating committee declared this today in the light of the disclosures that have transpired.

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These include a peremptory summons to Albert Bacon Fall, former secretary of the interior, to come to Washington from New Orleans to submit to examination by the committee.

Fall will be asked to explain where he got $100,000 to buy a New Mexico ranch. Colonel J.W. Zevely, attorney for Sinclair, will be asked to explain what he did with $30,000 Sinclair stock and $25,000 Liberty bonds which G.D. Wahlberg, Sinclair's secretary, told the Senate investigating committee were given to Zevely.

A search was begun today for Harry F. Sinclair's books.

Sinclair may be brought back from Europe.

The assistance of Department of Justice agents, United States marshals and the federal courts will be invoked if necessary, senators said, to force the truth from reluctant witnesses.

The Teapot Dome scandal has become the biggest matter before Congress and has dwarfed the question of tax reductions for the time being.

There is a general belief here that the whole truth is coming out and that all the naval oil reserves leases will be summarily cancelled by Congress.

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Developments came rapidly after the story of Archic Roosevelt, who told the committee late yesterday that he resigned from Sinclair corporation because of "suspicion of scandal" in Sinclair's lease of Teapot Dome from former Secretary of Interior Fall.

G.D. Wahlberg, confidential secretary to Sinclair, told Roosevelt that Sinclair had ordered all his books and personal effects sent out to his home the night before he sailed for Europe. They were taken out by Sinclair's attorney and not returned, so far as Wahlberg knew.

Wahlberg will take the stand again late today to tell further details. He resigned at midnight from his position admitting that his suspicions led him to "believe there was something wrong" with the Sinclair lease.

Mystery succeeded mystery in the amazing revelations made yesterday before the Senate committee investigating the Teapot Dome oil lease scandal. The source of Secretary Fall's now notorious $100,000 was not definitely established, but developments indicated Harry F. Sinclair was directly established, but developments indicated Harry F. Sinclair was directly involved.

Young Roosevelt, son of the former president and brother of the present assistant secretary of the navy, Theodore Roosevelt, testified he had just resigned from the vice presidency of Sinclair's companies because he could no longer endure association with a man whom he suspected of dishonest dealings with government officials.

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One of the chief causes of his resignation was the statement made to him by Wahlberg, that he, Wahlberg, had seen a Sinclair check for $68,000 in favor of Fall's ranch foreman.

Wahlberg then testified he told Roosevelt about "six or eight cows," not about "$68,000." Thereupon both Archie and Theodore Roosevelt testified Wahlberg had not remonstrated when he was first informed Archie would tell the Senate committee about the $68,000. In a subsequent conversation, Wahlberg first mentioned the cows. What Wahlberg actually said to Roosevelt remains a mystery.

Other developments were these:

Harry Sinclair sailed for Europe last Wednesday aboard the Paris without permitting his name to appear on the passenger list. He was to arrive at Havre, France, today.

Eighteen hours before he sailed he ordered Wahlberg to send to Sinclair's New York home all check books, vouchers, etc., bearing on financial transactions.

The present whereabouts of the books, if they are still in existence, remain a mystery.

Wahlberg testified that he, like Roosevelt, was resigning from Sinclair's employ chiefly because he was tired of doing Sinclair's dirty work. He cited specifically the turning over of approximately $70,000 in Sinclair Oil stocks and $25,000 in Liberty Bonds to Colonel J.W. Zevely, Sinclair's personal attorney, who handled many of Sinclair's negotiations with Fall at the same time the Teapot Dome lease was made. The ultimate destination of the funds totaling nearly $100,000 remains a mystery, except that Sinclair still holds Zevely's I.O.U.

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Answering Senator Walsh's question: "Did Sinclair bribe Fall?" Wahlberg replied: "I don't know. Sometimes loans are made to take care of propositions of this kind."

Word from New Orleans that E.L. Doheny, another beneficiary of a Fall made oil lease, was en route to Washington "to tell everything," and that Secretary Fall, supposedly ill in a New Orleans hotel, had been advised of Doheny's intentions, added still another mystery, namely: What did Fall and Doheny have to talk over that was so important as to cause Doheny to route his private car via New Orleans?

Roosevelt's belated testimony followed Senator Walsh's report of his revelations in Palm Beach, where it was shown Fall had not obtained the $100,000 from E.B. McLean, as Fall had claimed.

Walsh also read into the record a document, unsigned and of uncertain history, which purported to be an alibi drawn up by Fall. This document, found in the committee's files, attempted to explain that Fall had obtained his money from his son-in-law, and denounced Senator Walsh for "besmirching Fall's reputation." Both Senators Smoot and Lenroot denied previous knowledge of the document.

Further important developments are expected today when Wahlberg will resume the stand. Other Sinclair employees will also be quizzed.

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Former Secretary Fall has abandoned his former intention of taking a sea voyage that his departure from America soil at this time would be regarded with suspicion, especially in view of his contradictory stories as to where he got the $100,000 to finance a ranch deal, and his subsequent refusal to tell the real truth about it.

Archie Roosevelt told the committee yesterday he had resigned Sunday from the Sinclair Oil Corporation, of which he was an officer, because of numerous suspicious incidents.

His resignation came months after the leasing of the Teapot Dome to Sinclair and not until Senator Caraway, in a Senate speech, had accused Fall of being a traitor.

He said he came here, at the advice of his brother, Theodore, to tell the committee all he knew. His brother, who was present, introduced him. His wife was also present, as well as his sister, Alice Longworth, and her husband, Representative Longworth of Ohio.

Senator Caraway of Arkansas, on the Senate floor, declared Fall stands before the public accused of treason. Remarking that Fall was considering a sea voyage, Caraway said:

"I recall that Benedict Arnold traveled considerably after selling West Point; Sinclair is in Europe and so is Bergdoll, so I believe that the three of them may have congenial reunion some time soon.

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"Here is a man who stand before the bar of public justice indicted for treason - for that is what it is when one sells the government. If he's not guilty, he would come before this committee and tell the truth about his lease of Teapot Dome."

The Democratic National Committee, in ringing denunciation of Fall's activities as secretary of interior, compared the Teapot Dome scandal with the Ballinger scandal which wrecked Taft's administration. Democrats charged Fall secretly connived with Sinclair and Doheny to give them a stranglehold on the public domain.

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