WASHINGTON — Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) issued the following statement of resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday following allegations of sexual assault:
“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to be a United States congressman. Rare is the nation in which an immigrant child can become a national political figure. I thank God and my parents for the privilege of being an American.
“Now, however, the time has come to hand on the privilege of high office. I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.
“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.
“It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington. I intend to go forward with new resolve and love of family, the State of Oregon, and our nation.”
The teenage daughter of one of Wu’s friends has accused Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual advances over the Thanksgiving weekend. She said she did not report the incident initially because she feared it would be her word against his.
Wu did not respond directly to the allegations, but said in a statement, “This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family.”
He said he would not run for re-election in 2012, but many of his fellow Democrats — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who called for an ethics investigation — pressured him to step down immediately.
Following Wu’s announcement, Pelosi said, “Congressman Wu’s decision today is a recognition of his need to focus on his children and their future. The timing of his decision is in the best interests of his constituents. My prayers are with him and his family.”
Wu, who was born in Taiwan and immigrated with his parents to the U.S., was the first Chinese American member of the House of Representatives and a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. He was first elected in 1998 to represent Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, which includes part of Portland.
Following his re-election in 2010, some of his staff resigned, citing a pattern of erratic behavior, such as emailing photos of himself in a tiger suit. Wu attributed his behavior to non-prescription medication and stress caused by the campaign, the death of his father, his separation from his wife, Michelle, and raising their two children.