Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu, accused of an unwanted sexual encounter with the teenage daughter of a campaign contributor, has decided not to run for reelection next year, a spokesman said on Monday.
The decision by Wu, 56, not to seek an eighth term, came as Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee and pressure mounted for him to resign.
Beyond saying that Wu, the first Chinese-American elected to the House, will not run in 2012, his press secretary, Erik Dorey, declined to comment.
Wu publicly acknowledged earlier this year that he was undergoing psychiatric treatment after his staff complained of erratic behavior, including his e-mailing of a picture of himself dressed in a tiger costume.
"Recent press reports and statements attributed to our colleague, Representative David Wu, indicate he may have engaged in inappropriate activities," Pelosi wrote in a two-sentence letter to the ethics panel.
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"An investigation by the Ethics Committee to determine if rules of the House of Representatives have been violated is warranted," it said.
In response to media reports that the daughter of an old high school friend and campaign donor had accused him of misconduct, Wu himself issued a statement over the weekend calling the allegation against him "very serious."
"I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family," he added.
NO CONFIDENCE VOTE EXPECTED
The Portland Oregonian newspaper reported that Wu's accuser is from Orange County, California, and graduated from high school in 2010. It said the alleged encounter occurred around Thanksgiving of last year when the woman was 18.
The newspaper said several of Wu's staff earlier this year listened to a distraught voice mail left by the woman, accusing Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual advances. Details of the alleged encounter have not been disclosed.
Local party officials said the allegation amounted to the last straw for a politician whose career has been marked by a number of instances of questionable behavior.
"Many people in the 1st Congressional district and in Washington County are very upset with him and want to see him resign," said Mike Bohan, Democratic chairman in Wu's district. "It is hard to picture how he can be an effective congressman."
Democrats in Washington County were expected to hold a "no confidence" vote on Wu on Wednesday. County Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Packer expected it will pass. "The prevailing feeling among members is that Wu should resign," she said.
In 2007, Wu raised eyebrows with a speech on the House floor comparing Bush administration officials to members of a fictional alien race on "Star Trek," saying, "There are Klingons in the White House" sending "real Americans to war."
His conduct also came under scrutiny after the Oregonian reported he had delivered an angry, ranting speech to supporters in his home district in late 2010. Two days later, according to the paper, Wu talked his way past airport security to the arrival gate to pick up his two children, and then began to campaign there.
Several of his staff members resigned following the 2010 election, citing what they believed was bizarre behavior.
At the time he said, "I sincerely regret some of the things I said and did" and promised to "manage stress more appropriately going forward" with the help of medication and counseling.