This past weekend, the news broke that Congressman David Wu, who represents Oregon's 1st Congressional District (I lived in his district from 2006 to 2010), was facing another scandal that stems from events last year. This one involved an 18 year old daughter of a campaign contributor. She claimed that he made unwanted sexual advances on her. He had told someone on his staff that it was "consensual." The incident supposedly happened over Thanksgiving last year.
I had written a blog post about him earlier this year, back in March. In that post (worth reading if you want to get details on his scandal), I called on him to resign for the good of the party. Apparently, he had met with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to discuss his latest scandal. Though we will never know what was said, we can probably be fairly certain that he was asked to leave the hallowed halls of Congress. After all, there was pressure on Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign for his sexting scandal. As bad and embarrassing as that ordeal was, what Wu is accused of doing is far worse. There was no question that he had to go. On Monday, Wu had announced that he would not seek reelection next year. He already has two Democratic challengers for the nomination. After the meeting with Pelosi, the news broke that Wu was resigning after the vote on the debt ceiling. Some might not think its soon enough, but I'm just glad that pressure for him to resign has finally forced his hand. He has been an embarrassment for far too long.
For those who don't know the details, the scandals started early in the new year when six of his long-term staffers abruptly resigned. Some didn't even have a job lined up! This mass resignation was probably necessary, though, to get the attention of the media, which rarely hears about such defection. And these weren't silent resignations where everyone makes nice and pretends that there is nothing negative about the resignation. The media reported on several incidents that occurred during the campaign last fall. Staffers were concerned with Wu's erratic behaviour and temper. Some of these events that troubled his staff include: Wu convincing a TSA agent to let him pass security to meet his son on a disembarking plane, where he proceeded to ask every passenger for their vote; accepting a pill from a supporter which he claimed was Ibuprofen but in reality was Oxycodon; having his photo taken in a Tiger costume over Halloween (including one where his son is "choking" him while he lies facedown on the bed) and emailing them to staff at 1 in the morning with strange comments where he pretended to be his kids defending their dad; and for being faced with an intervention by staff the weekend before election day where he was told to seek psychiatric help in a mental hospital. The campaign was suspended for the final weekend of the campaign. He won reelection.
The new scandal has him forcing himself on an 18 year old daughter of one of his financial contributors. How sick is that? He claims it was "consensual", but who would believe him? He's in his 50s and in a position of power. Does he not think that an 18 year old girl might be intimidated by him? Also, there is on his record the allegation of rape while he was a student at Stanford as a young man. The guy has problems. I hated that I had voted for him in 2006 and 2008. In 2010, I voted for David Robinson, his challenger in the Democratic Primary. The vote was devastating (Wu won 75% of the vote). In the fall, I decided to move east of the river into Congressman Earl Blumenauer's district, in part so I wouldn't have to vote for the Republican opponent (which I most certainly would have done).
I know my liberal friends are stunned that I could be so harsh in my view of a fellow Democrat, but I'm very much of the belief that politicians serve at the privilege of the people and of the party. Its up to party members to uphold the standards and if an elected official brings shame upon the party for whatever misconduct, the party has every right to tell the member to resign. Its much more difficult for a recall election to be held and its also difficult for an incumbent to be voted out of office. So, I'm glad that circumstances have finally come to public knowledge that forced Wu to give up the seat he was desperately clinging to. I hope he has a lot of difficulty finding a job in this economy. There should be a black mark on his resume. I consider this karmic payback. He got what he deserved. His personal life was a mess (his wife left him last year) and he has a history of sexual aggression towards women. He is a disgrace and I hope we never hear anything about his insignificant life ever again. If he ends up in jail, that might be a good place for him to spend the rest of his days.
As for the district, I'm thrilled that the number of candidates seeking office might increase beyond the two declared candidates. I'm hoping someone interesting will jump in so I can volunteer on their campaign. An open seat for Congress is one of the most exciting opportunities in politics. 2012 just got a hell of a lot more exciting. Unfortunately for the mayor's race, there's still only two viable candidates, though one of them lost a great deal of credibility when the news reported that he had lived in Washington state for a number of years recently, which is a sign that someone wants to avoid paying Oregon's hefty income tax (one of the highest in the nation, if not THE HIGHEST). The current mayor, who has been under a dark cloud for his entire administration due to news about his sex scandal with a borderline legal young man, has not yet declared an intention to run for reelection. That's the other race worth watching, since two efforts to get a recall election had failed. 2012 will be the voters chance to finally weigh in on the scandal.
If we want to improve our country, we truly need to enforce an ethical and moral standard upon all office seekers and holders. These elected positions are a privilege, not a right. With power comes responsibility, and if someone's personal conduct is sleazy or exploitative or abusive, then no matter how smart and talented they are, they should not be granted the honour and privilege of serving the rest of us. So, with that, Good Riddance Congressman Wu. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!