David Wu, already embattled by allegations of erratic behavior, faces a sexual misconduct charge by the teenage daughter of one of his prominent donors. He quickly responded to the charge by announcing he will not seek re-election. However, he has refused to resign thus far.
The Oregonian first reported about a voicemail left by the woman at Wu’s district office in Portland, accusing him of “aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior.” Wu, who is 56, acknowledged a sexual encounter with the woman, who graduated high school last year, though he insisted it was consensual. No criminal complaint has been filed.
Wu already had several challengers for re-election, after several top staffers quit following his race in 2010, citing erratic behavior, including sending a picture of himself dressed up as a tiger to his staff. Wu apologized for various bouts of inappropriate behavior, which he claimed he had under control by seeking professional medical help.
But this sexual assault allegation is far more serious, and it’s apparently the second accusation of this type that Wu has experienced. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chair Steve Israel called for an ethics probe and privately made it clear to Wu that he has no support within the caucus.
“With deep disappointment and sadness about this situation, I hope that the Ethics Committee will take up this matter. I will send a letter to the Ethics Committee tomorrow asking them to formally initiate a review of this matter,” Pelosi said in a written statement Sunday […]
“New allegations of unacceptable behavior by Congressman Wu are extremely serious and disturbing,” Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a written statement.
“I strongly agree with Leader Pelosi’s request that the House Ethics Committee use its authority to begin an immediate investigation.”
I don’t think that the Wu situation will get nearly as much attention as Anthony Weiner did. Wu is not as well-known nationally, represents Portland and not New York City, and the allegations come during a major debate over the debt limit and not in the middle of a sleepy holiday weekend with little else going on. Also, the last name Weiner.
But speaking of the debt limit, it’s worth noting that a resignation would have an impact. Wu is one of eighty House Democrats who signed a Congressional Progressive Caucus Letter demanding no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. As we now know, Harry Reid’s debt limit deal reflects those priorities. But Wu may not be around to vote on it. Currently, the House has 433 members and 2 vacancies, and 217 votes are needed for passage if everyone votes. If Wu resigns, 217 votes would STILL be needed for passage (out of 432), but there would be one less Democrat voting.
I think Wu’s embarrassment to the caucus through past behavior, and the general zero-tolerance policy now in force for any sexual misconduct, is driving the demand for resignation, and that’s not likely to let up.