Oregon lawmaker to resign over sex scandal

PORTLAND, Ore Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:24pm EDT

Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu in an undated photo. REUTERS/Handout

Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu in an undated photo.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

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PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu, accused of an unwanted sexual encounter with a campaign donor's teenage daughter, said on Tuesday he will resign his seat to defend himself against "these very serious allegations."

The decision by Wu, 56, to step down came a day after he announced he would not seek an eighth term in office, as Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee for investigation.

Wu becomes the latest in a long line of politicians from both parties to become caught up in sex scandals over the years, and the second House Democrat in little over a month to have his tenure cut short by such a controversy.

New York Representative Anthony Weiner resigned in June after he admitted lying about sending lewd photos of himself to women over the Internet.

Wu's conduct has been called into question previously. He acknowledged earlier this year he was undergoing psychiatric treatment after his staff complained of erratic behavior, including his e-mailing of a picture of himself dressed in a tiger costume.

Wu, the first Chinese-American elected to Congress, did not give a precise date for his resignation, saying only that he planned to step down "effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis."

Congress faces an early August deadline to pass legislation raising the nation's debt ceiling to avoid a U.S. default on its obligations.

While he made no explicit mention of the exact misconduct he is accused of, Wu said in his statement, "I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations."

SPECIAL ELECTION

Wu represents Oregon's heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the western side of Portland, the state's largest city, as well as more rural areas in Oregon's northwestern corner.

The governor will call for a special election to fill Wu's seat for the remainder of his term.

Two other Democrats already had declared their intention to challenge Wu in next year's primary before the scandal broke -- state labor commissioner Brad Avakian and state lawmaker Brad Witt of Clatskanie, Oregon, northwest of Portland.

No Republicans have immediately announced plans to run. But Oregon Republican Party Chairman Allen Alley called the 1st District "absolutely a winnable Republican seat," citing what he described as a shift in the national political tone.

Although Democrats account for 42.4 percent of registered voters in the district, compared with 30.1 percent for Republicans, a sizable bloc, 27.5 percent, are registered as members of various third parties or are unaffiliated.

In 2010, Wu's Republican challenger, Rob Cornilles, lost by 10 percentage points.

Alley said several Republicans were considering a bid for Wu's seat in the special election.

The latest allegations against Wu surfaced last week when the Portland Oregonian newspaper reported the daughter of a high school friend who contributed to Wu's campaign accused him of making an unwanted sexual advance around Thanksgiving of last year.

Details of the nature of the alleged encounter have not been disclosed. Wu has not denied the accusation but has acknowledged more than once the allegation was "serious."

"I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family," he said in a statement issued over the weekend.

The Oregonian said Wu's accuser, who has not been identified, was from Orange County, California, graduated from high school in 2010, and was 18 at the time of the alleged incident.

The newspaper said several of Wu's staff listened earlier this year to a distraught voice mail left by the woman, accusing Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual advances.

(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (7)
thomasvesely wrote:
wu wu baby,time to go.

Jul 25, 2011 9:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mackenzie2148 wrote:
Wu has for some time now appeared to have some serious mental health problems. He has been an ongoing embarrassment to Oregon for nearly his entire tenure. Now this latest and most serious issue, and his defiant attitude towards calls for his resignation is the last straw. Wu must be removed now and forced to seek treatment until he is deemed to be no threat to the public.

Jul 25, 2011 10:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
whendone wrote:
If Mr. Wu was just a good old working person like the rest of us, and a young woman accused (us) him of sexual misconduct, would he (we) not already be arrested. It always seems to me that individuals who are in the political field,movie stars, or individuals who have the money to make small problems like this go away, are still running around.
If this young lady had accused you or me, wonder what our bail would be, that is if the Judge was in a good mood to set a low bond, say 1 million or more for a crime that has not been proven. Bet the local press would have a field day with this, local worked accused of having unwanted sexual contact with a 18 year old girl just out of high school. Was she really 18, or maybe she was 17, which would change the whole picture for Mr. Wu. Oh well just talking out loud, tomorrow he will still be free walking the streets, doing what ever he wants, while you or I would be setting in jail waiting for our first court appearance. Wonder what his defense might be? Not in right frame of mind, work has caused me to do strange things, oops forgot he is doing that now. Hum, he may get out of this without any jail time, and losing a job in which we elected him in the first place.

Jul 25, 2011 10:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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