Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

Albert Fall - Secretary of the Interior, 1921-1923

One of New Mexico's two original Senators, Fall was appointed to head the Department of the Interior by poker buddy President Warren G. Harding. His tenure was a disaster. In 1922, he secretly granted an oil executive the exclusive right to drill on the Teapot Dome reserve in Wyoming. (He made a similar deal at a reserve in California.) As Senate investigations later revealed, his generosity was rewarded to the tune of more than $400,000. Though he retired in 1923, Fall's back-room deal later became a byword for government corruption, and in 1931, the former Interior Secretary left his home by ambulance to serve a one-year prison term— the first cabinet member ever convicted and imprisoned for a major crime committed while in office.