By Jeffrey Osborn
Northwest Asian Weekly
Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) announced his resignation on Tuesday, July 26, after facing nearly a week of accusations involving an aggressive sexual encounter with a teenager.
Congressman Wu had been under mounting pressure to resign from his constituents in Oregon and fellow democrats in Washington, including an ethics committee investigation at the request of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. In his home state of Oregon, both Democratic senators applied pressure on Wu to resign in a joint statement.
“The accusations against David Wu are jarring and exceptionally serious. While he — like every American — deserve an opportunity to address those accusations and defend himself, our constituents in the first district of Oregon deserve a member in the House of Representatives whose main focus is fighting for their interests.”
In a statement issued by his office, Wu stated his family was the primary reason for his resignation.
“The well-being 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. This is the right decision for my family, the institution of the House, and my colleagues.”
The initial story broke less than a week earlier on July 22, when an article in the Oregonian newspaper stated that several anonymous sources within Wu’s office confirmed the alleged victim of the assault had left a voicemail message at Wu’s office.
The content of the voicemail has not been made immediately clear, but an anonymous source within Wu’s office told the Oregonian that the young woman was upset, breathing heavily, and “distraught.”
The Oregonian has not named any of its sources or the young woman citing anonymity. However, it has confirmed that the woman was 18 years old when the alleged assault took place and is the daughter of a childhood friend of Wu’s. Wu has not confirmed that an aggressive altercation took place between him and the alleged victim. However, he states that a consensual relationship took place.
This is not the first accusation of sexual misconduct against Congressman Wu. In 1976, during his time as a student at Stanford University, Wu was accused of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Stanford opted to discipline Wu, as well as force him to attend counseling. This story became a major headline for Wu in 2004 when the Oregonian published the article only three weeks before the congressional elections.
Wu defeated his opponent, Republican Goli Ameri, with 57.8 percent of the vote versus Ameri’s 38.3 percent.
Meanwhile, with the confirmed announcement of Wu’s resignation, Oregonians have their eyes on a special election in Wu’s heavily Democratic district. The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, will decide on the exact date of the election.
One option is to hold the election within 80 days of the resignation, in which case the officials will be nominated through party conventions.
Alternatively, should the governor decide to hold it outside of that 80-day period, the candidates will be decided through individual party primaries. In both special elections held while Gov. Kitzhaber has been in office, he has elected for public primaries.
Democratic leadership in Washington has shown little concern that a congressional seat may be taken from them.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, “We are confident that a Democrat will continue to represent the families in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.” Israel also noted that a Republican has not held that seat since 1975.
Wu was born in Hsinchu, Taiwan, after his parents fled the Chinese Civil War and later immigrated to New York with his parents. In 1998, Wu was the first Chinese American to be elected to the House of Representatives and is currently serving his seventh term.
Wu has not given an exact date for his resignation from office. ♦
Jeffrey Osborn can be reached at email@example.com.