Oregon’s Rep. Wu faces sex allegation
By Aaron Blake,
Rep. David Wu spoke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Saturday about his future after reports in his hometown newspaper that a young woman called the congressman’s office this spring complaining of what was described as an “unwanted sexual encounter.”
The woman, whom the Portland Oregonian did not name, reportedly left a distraught voicemail accusing Wu (D-Ore.) of aggressive sexual behavior.
The Oregonian, citing anonymous sources in the congressman’s office, said Wu has acknowledged a sexual encounter with the woman but said that it was consensual. The congressman separated from his wife in 2009 and has been seeking a divorce.
Asked by reporters Saturday night whether she thought Wu should resign, Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to weigh in.
“I don’t have any comment on that at this time,” Pelosi said as she left her office after a series of meetings with other congressional leaders on raising the debt ceiling. “I just really don’t know that much about it; I heard that there was some article in the paper.”
Pelosi told reporters that she’d have something to say later, noting that “right now, we’re so completely, totally immersed” in the debt-limit negotiations.
In a statement late Friday, Wu did not directly address his actions in the matter.
“This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention, or stress to a young woman and her family,” Wu said.
The news comes on the heels of a series of revelations that already threatened the Portland-area congressman’s political career.
Wu was accused of erratic behavior toward the end of his successful 2010 reelection campaign. Staffers urged Wu to check in to a psychiatric hospital because of his behavior. He later cited the stresses of the campaign for his actions and said he successfully sought treatment for his problems.
The alleged sexual encounter occurred Thanksgiving weekend, a few weeks after the 2010 election. The woman did not contact the police at the time, and her family has declined to comment. A lawyer for the family did not respond to an inquiry from The Post.
None of his Democratic colleagues have publicly called for Wu’s resignation, but a newspaper outside Wu’s northwest Oregon district, the Eugene Register-Guard, has called on him to resign because of a lack of candor about his problems.
A source close to the situation said Wu is going to take the coming days to evaluate his options, which include resignation, not seeking reelection or fighting back.
He has drawn primary challenges from two Democrats — state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt. Republicans also hope to target the Democratic-leaning seat, but will probably only be able to do so if Wu survives the primary.
Democrats privately acknowledge that Wu’s troubles endanger what should be a safe seat for them, and Wu’s fate in a primary — if he seeks reelection — is very much up in the air.
Whatever Wu may have done before, the implications of the latest accusations appear to be even worse. The woman who made the call reportedly graduated from high school just last year and is apparently the daughter of one of Wu’s friends.
It’s also not the first time Wu has been accused of sexual misconduct. The Oregonian reported in 2004 that, in the 1970s, Wu was disciplined by Stanford University after his former girlfriend accused him of trying to force her to have sex with him. After that report, Wu apologized.
Wu also acknowledged in a February interview with ABC News that he sent “unprofessional” e-mails to his staff, including one photo that showed him wearing a tiger costume, and that he took unprescribed medication. He has experienced significant turnover in his staff.
Wu, who was born in Taiwan and is the first Chinese American to serve in Congress, has represented Oregon’s 1st District since 1999. He has rarely been seriously challenged, winning most recently in 2010 with 55 percent of the vote, before the current allegations came to light.
Wu, 56, is a lawyer and member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. He was chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus early in his tenure in Congress, but generally has not been considered a force — even within the state’s delegation — over his seven terms.
Some have criticized him from being isolated from his constituents. Since the controversy over his behavior came to light earlier this year, Wu has been making an effort to connect with constituents.
The district he represents includes most of Portland west of the Willamette River and stretches up to the northwest corner of the state.