Over the weekend, Rep. David Wu of Oregon became the latest congressmen to be accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. His fellow Democrats are already demanding that he resign due to fears that they have another Anthony Weiner scandal on their hands — except this time instead of being all fun and dick jokes, the alleged incident involves the sexual assault of a teenage girl.
Not that the Wu case is lacking for colorful details. Before the 2010 elections Wu sent a picture of himself in a tiger costume to staffers along with some strange rambling emails. In the spring Wu announced he was seeking treatment for unspecified mental health problems (after news of his erratic behavior was leaked to the press, naturally). Politico reports that there are also rumors about Wu accusing congressional staffers of stealing his lighter and demanding to be let onto the floor of the House of Representatives during the opening prayer, which isn't allowed.
There's also a far more sinister incident in his past: A former girlfriend accused him of rape in 1976, when he was a student at Stanford University. No charges were filed, but the college disciplined him and ordered him to seek counseling. In 2004 he told The Oregonian:
"As a 21-year-old, I hurt someone I cared very much about. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I am very sorry ... This single event forever changed my life and the person that I have become."
Now Wu has been accused of having what's being referred to as an "unwanted sexual encounter" with a close friend's teenage daughter last Thanksgiving. A source who heard the voicemail message the woman left at Wu's office says her claims "were disgusting and appalling." The Oregonian reports that Wu, "acknowledged a sexual encounter to his senior aides but insisted it was consensual."
Thanks to Weinergate, (as well as the recent sex scandals involving Rep. Alcee Hastings, former Rep. Christopher Lee, former Sen. John Ensign, former Rep. Eric Massa, and several surprisingly unsexual congressional scandals) Wu's colleagues are pushing for him to leave office before he becomes regular Daily Show fodder. Wu says he won't seek reelection in 2012, but is refusing to step down, since as an anonymous advisor tells Politico, "he hasn't done anything that rises to the level of requiring him to resign."
Last night Nancy Pelosi responded by calling on the House to investigate Wu. She's expected to make a formal request today, and said in a statement, "With deep disappointment and sadness about this situation, I hope that the Ethics Committee will take up this matter." Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel added,
"New allegations of unacceptable behavior by Congressman Wu are extremely serious and disturbing. I strongly agree with Leader Pelosi's request that the House Ethics Committee use its authority to begin an immediate investigation."
In the past, a few of Wu's colleagues probably would have warned against jumping to conclusions, then backpedaled furiously once the lurid details emerged. This time several Democratic leaders tracked him down wherever he's hiding out in Washington, just to let him know that he "has no support" for them.
As for Wu, he's issued only one gentlemanly comment on the matter, saying he doesn't want to bring more attention to his possibly criminal behavior ... for the sake of his accuser, of course. "This is very serious," he said, "and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family."
Wu Won't Resign; Pelosi Seeks Probe [Politico]
Pelosi Calls For House Ethics Investigation Of Oregon Congressman [Chicago Tribune]