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Oregon lawmaker to resign over young woman’s accusation

Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon announced Tuesday that he would resign from Congress, following allegations of sexual misconduct with a young woman.

The resignation announcement came in the wake of a report last week that the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor called the congressman’s office this year to accuse him of an unwanted sexual encounter on Thanksgiving. Wu, 56, acknowledged the incident to his aides but said it was consensual, the Oregonian newspaper reported. The accuser was 18 at the time of the encounter, according to the Oregonian.

On Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) called for a formal ethics investigation. By Tuesday, Wu, a seven-term member of Congress, said in a statement that he would resign his post, which he called “the greatest privilege of my life.”

“I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations,” Wu said. “The well-being of my children must come before anything else.”

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The sex scandal is the second in as many months to rock Democrats in Congress. In June, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) stepped down after a prolonged drama in which he eventually admitted to sending lewd photos to women online.

A third congressman, Rep. Christopher Lee (R-N.Y.), resigned in February after flirtatious emails and shirtless photos of himself that he sent to a woman on Craigslist were made public.

The allegations against Wu, who is the first Chinese American to serve in the House of Representatives, are the latest troubles for the departing congressman. He previously acknowledged seeking medical help for a mental health condition. At one point in 2010, he sent his aides photos of himself in a tiger costume that have since become public. After his reelection in November, several of his staff members resigned.

Wu’s departure date is unclear. He said he would step down “upon the resolution of the debt ceiling crisis,” which has gripped Washington for weeks; lawmakers are scrambling to lift the debt cap before an Aug. 2 deadline.

After Wu resigns, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, must call a special election to replace him. Depending on the date he sets, there will either be a primary or party officials will select their nominees.

Top Democrats were optimistic they could hold Wu’s seat in the upcoming election. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, noted that Oregon’s 1st Congressional District has been represented by a Democrat since 1975.

“We are confident that a Democrat will continue to represent the families in this overwhelmingly Democratic district,” he said in a statement.

shane.goldmacher@latimes.com


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