While Democrat and Republican House leaders are up to their necks in budget negotiations, they have yet another sex scandal to handle.
Reports are beginning to surface that a young woman who is the teenage daughter of a longtime family friend has accused Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) of “unwanted sexual advances” that are said to have occurred around Thanksgiving of last year.
There has been no criminal complaint filed against the seven-term Oregon lawmaker.
The situation first came to light in May after aides heard a panicked voicemail from the young woman accusing Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior, The Oregonian reported. When confronted by senior aides, Wu confirmed the encounter but described it as consensual.
This is the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued Wu over the past year. His staff complained of bizarre behavior prior to his 2010 race and only rarely was he seen on the campaign trail. He also sent strange emails and a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume to his staff and admitted he was taking painkillers given to him by a doctor for a neck condition. Approximately half his staff resigned shortly afterward.
On Saturday, Wu spoke with House Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats about the allegations but no decision was reached on what course of action he would take. Aides close to senior Democrat lawmakers would not comment on Pelosi’s conversation with Wu, other than to confirm the two had spoken and that the issue is “extremely troubling” to her. Other House leaders have contacted Wu but he has not been publicly seen since last Friday.
Wu’s office issued a statement, saying, “This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family.”
Many times when incumbent lawmakers are embroiled in controversy, it encourages potential challengers to run against them. However, Wu was already facing multiple challengers in the 2012 Democratic primary.
The News Times reported on July 20 that two other Democrats were lining up to challenge Wu. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, an announced candidate, had $124,003 on hand for the race. Also, State Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) entered the race earlier this month. Wu was able to fend off a Republican challenger in 2010 and in a year that saw several Democrat incumbents defeated by Republican challengers in the 2010 elections.
Both of his opponents have already called on Wu to resign.
“If this accusation proves to be true, it’s time for David Wu to resign and get the help he needs,” Witt told the NY Daily News.
Born in Taiwan, Wu moved with his family to the United States in 1961. He attended public schools and received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1977. Afterward, he attended Harvard Medical School but became an attorney instead after receiving his law degree from Yale University in 1982. Wu was a practicing attorney prior to being elected in 1998 as the first Chinese American to serve in Congress.
Wu is separated from his wife and is being treated for an unspecified mental health condition. The couple is reportedly seeking a divorce and have two small children.