Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who is facing ethics charges for having “aggressive and unwanted” sex with the teenage daughter of a friend and political supporter, said on Tuesday that he will be resigning.
“The time has come to hand on the privilege of high office,” Wu said in a statement. “I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.”
Over the weekend, reports began to surface about the alleged encounter that happened in November of 2010. Wu spoke first with Democratic leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Saturday, who after first learning of the issue said it was “extremely troubling” to her.
Pelosi later called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate the matter and as a result, Wu began coming under intense scrutiny from colleagues and constituents. Additionally, Wu’s past behavior has concerned campaign and congressional staff, causing some to resign in mass.
The pressure on Wu began to further escalate when both of Oregon’s two Democratic senators – Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley – called for his resignation.
In a joint statement issued earlier today, they said:
“The accusations against David Wu are jarring and exceptionally serious. While he – like every American – deserves 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,” the senators said.
“This is a critical time for our state and our nation and Oregonians need every member of their Congressional delegation to be effective. While no one takes pleasure in asking a colleague to resign, we believe he can no longer be an effective representative for our shared constituents and should, in the best interest of Oregon, step down.”
On Monday, Wu confided in his close friend and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), who in his advice to Wu said, “Dave, you have to do what’s in the best interest of your young family, and yourself and then the institution, in that order.”
Larson also told Wu that “there are no good answers to this,” during their conversation.
Someone speaking on Wu’s behalf initially told reporters the 7-term Oregon Congressman would not resign, but would not seek reelection in 2012. Two Democrat elected officials had already announced their intentions to run against Wu before these recent allegations were made public.
The congressional district Wu has represented since 1999 is heavily Democratic and he previously won each of his previous races by double-digit margins.
Wu is the second House Democrat to resign over sexual indiscretions this year. In June, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned after sending inappropriate messages and photographs to several women via Twitter.
When Wu’s resignation is effective and his seat has been officially vacated, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will call a special election.