David Wu, the scandal-plagued Congressman from Oregon accused of an unwanted sexual encounter with the 18 year-old daughter of a donor, announced today that he would resign, but only after the resolution of the debt limit debate in Congress.

NBC News has confirmed that Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon is resigning in the aftermath of allegations that he had a sexual encounter with an 18-year-old woman.

The congressman had been pressured to step down after the House Democratic leader sought an investigation into the woman’s claims that the interaction was unwanted.

Wu, 56, a seven-term Democrat from Portland whose unusual behavior had been the subject of news stories earlier in the year, has said the encounter was consensual.

In a statement, he said, “I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.”

Wu continued, “The wellbeing of my children must come before anything else. With great sadness, I therefore intend to resign effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis.”

Wu is one of 80 Democrats who has signed the Progressive Caucus letter vowing not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits as part of the debt limit resolution. So his vote is actually somewhat crucial, given how close the votes are likely to be.

As the article notes, Wu had several questionable incidents during the last election cycle, and staffers attempted to get him medical help late in the campaign. He also was accused back in 2004 on a sexual misconduct charge. Wu separated from his wife last year.

The special election that will result from this resignation is a bit interesting. Oregon has already approved new Congressional district lines. It appears that the district lines are effective immediately, which means the new OR-01 constituents may get to vote in the special election. This brings up a host of legal issues around equal representation. But it may not matter, if the Elections Baord decides that the old lines would be used.

Of course, there’s another troublesome wrinkle. If Wu does resign, and there is a special election this fall, the election would be held under the new lines – but the new Member of Congress would represent the old district until January 3, 2013. There would be people who get to vote in that race, but would not be represented by that new Member. There would be others who don’t get to vote in the race, but would be represented by that new Member. Pretty confusing, and a possible legal problem.

Update, 11:45 a.m. Well, this just gets more and more confusing and interesting. I’ve just received word from the Elections Division that their official position is that any special election held this fall would be held under the old map. They are relying on guidance from Legislative Counsel and their DOJ counsel.

The new district lines are slightly more conservative than the old ones.

Kari Chisholm has more on the particulars of how a special election would go.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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