Did Rep. David Wu make the right move by resigning?
PORTLAND -- Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon has announced that he is resigning in the wake of allegations that he had a sexual encounter with an 18-year-old woman.
Sources told KGW that Wu's decision came after he learned that Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden planned to release a joint statement Tuesday morning urging him to resign. Both senators had reached out to Wu on Monday, each leaving more than one message.
More: Read Wu's resignation
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had called for a House Ethics investigation after the initial reports of the allegation. Wu had previously said that whatever occurred was consensual.
The sex allegations first surfaced Friday. Wu had initially insisted he would not resign but rather would simply not run for re-election.
Then, on Tuesday morning, Wu said the well-being of his children should come first, so he will resign after Congress resolves the debate over the debt ceiling.
Wu, 56, has won seven terms. In 2004, he won despite acknowledging a decades-old college incident in which he tried to force a former girlfriend to have sex. Voters said they disliked an opponent's attempt to use that against Wu as part of a political campaign.
The governor issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, explaining that he will call for a special election once he has received Wu's official resignation.
"Once that is in hand, I intend to call for a special election to elect a Representative to Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, with sufficient time for the Secretary of State to call a special primary," the statement said.
Wyden (D-Ore.) and Merkley (D-Ore.) issued a joint statement Tuesday, following Wu's resignation announcement. They also urged the governor to move quickly in calling for a special election.
“The allegations before Congressman Wu are deeply disturbing and clearly hindered his ability to be an effective representative for the First District. He has made the right choice in resigning," Wyden and Merkley's joint statement said.
Pelosi had called for ethics probe
Early Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to leaders of the House Ethics Committee, saying an investigation into Wu was warranted.
"I call on the Ethics Committee to initiate an investigation into the allegations against Congressman Wu," Pelosi said in a statement. "With deep disappointment and sadness about this situation, I hope that the Ethics Committee will take up this matter."
As first reported by The Oregonian newspaper Friday, Rep. Wu faced allegations he had an unwanted sexual encounter with the 18-year-old daughter of a campaign donor from California in November, 2010. Wu called the accusation "very serious," but did not say whether it was true.
Wu's press secretary Erik Dorey told KGW Monday that Wu had decided not to run for re-election in 2012, but that he planned to serve out his term through next year. Wu himself could not be reached for first-hand confirmation and his office in Washington D.C. was closed. Tuesday morning, all that changed and Wu announced he would resign.
Congressional sources told KGW this past weekend that in conversations with Wu on Saturday, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders expressed disappointment in what Wu had done and that they hoped he would "take appropriate measures." These sources said it was made clear that having him step aside on his own was the preference.
Problems surfaced months ago
In February, Wu told KGW he was hiding nothing and promised there would be no more incidents or revelations. “I’m very much on the mend,” Wu said in an interview. “I’m in a good place.”
Wu had previously apologized for several episodes of erratic behavior before and after the 2010 election.