Roseburg Politician Avoids Conviction in Oregon Land Frauds Scandal

Dec 6, 2013

 Roseburg, Ore., attorney Binger Hermann emigrated in 1850 from Baltimore to Oregon, where he became a state senator, tax collector, judge advocate in the Oregon militia, and by 1884, Oregon’s sole representative in the U.S. Congress.

   Defeated after six terms in the House, Hermann then served as commissioner of the General Land Office under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.  Hermann resigned in 1903 when an investigation into what became known as the Oregon Land Frauds scandal revealed that the General Land Office had accepted bribes to approve fraudulent homestead claims.   Two years later a federal grand jury indicted Hermann on charges ranging from destruction of evidence to conspiracy to commit fraud.   Hermann was never convicted, and despite the scandal he managed to be reelected to his former congressional seat, proving the truth of Oregon Gov. Theodore Greer’s earlier description of Hermann as “one of the smoothest politicians Oregon ever produced.” As a result of the investigations of the land office, Congress amended homestead laws and transferred management of national forests from the land office to the U.S. Forest Service.

   Sources: Tatom, Oliver. "Binger Hermann." Oregon Encyclopedia . Web. 15 Nov. 2013.   "Binger Hermann." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.