David Wu

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For other people named David Wu, see David Wu (disambiguation).
David Wu
David Wu, official portrait, 111th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1999 – August 3, 2011
Preceded by Elizabeth Furse
Succeeded by Suzanne Bonamici
Personal details
Born (1955-04-08) April 8, 1955 (age 60)
Hsinchu, Taiwan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Wu (m. 1996; div. 2009)
Residence Portland, Oregon, United States
Education Stanford University (B.S.)
Harvard Medical School
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Presbyterian

David Wu (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: 吴振伟; pinyin: Wú Zhènwěi; born April 8, 1955) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Oregon's 1st congressional district from 1999 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

As a child of immigrants from Taiwan, Wu was the first Chinese American[1] and Taiwanese-American to serve in the House of Representatives. In the wake of accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances on the teenage daughter of a campaign donor and friend, Wu announced that he would resign from office following resolution of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis;[2][3] he submitted his resignation on August 3, 2011. A special election was held on January 31, 2012, to fill the vacancy in advance of the regular 2012 election.[4] Democrat Suzanne Bonamici defeated Republican challenger Rob Cornilles to win this special election.

Since his resignation, unlike most other former members of Congress in that situation, he has not only remained in the Washington area but has kept up his public profile. He has been raising money for local Democratic parties, and organizing student exchange programs between the Chinese and American space programs. According to a 2014 report, he still frequents the House offices, where he visits with friends, sometimes sits in on hearings and even goes onto the House floor.[5]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Wu was born in Hsinchu, Taiwan. His parents were from Suzhou in Jiangsu province and settled in Taiwan due to the Chinese Civil War. The family moved to the United States in 1961.[6] Wu spent his first two years in the U.S. in Latham, New York, where his family were the only Asian Americans in town.[7]

Wu received a bachelor of science degree from Stanford University in 1977 and attended Harvard Medical School for a time, sharing an apartment with future-United States Senator Bill Frist.[8] Wu did not complete his medical studies. Instead, he attended Yale Law School where he was awarded a Juris Doctor degree in 1982. Next, he served as a clerk for a federal judge and then co-founded the law firm of Cohen & Wu. The firm focused on representing clients in Oregon's high-tech development sector, centered on "Silicon Forest."

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Wu was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, succeeding Democrat Elizabeth Furse. He narrowly defeated Republican Molly Bordonaro by a little over 7,100 votes. He won re-election in 2000, defeating state senator Charles Starr in the November election with 58% of the vote to 39% for Starr.[9] Redistricting after the 2000 census made the 1st considerably more Democratic, notably by adding a small portion of Multnomah County. Wu won re-election in 2004 over Republican Goli Ameri; in 2006 over Oregon state representative Derrick Kitts and two minor party candidates; and in 2008 with no Republican candidate running, he captured 72% of the vote to win a sixth term over four minor party candidates. He faced his most difficult reelection test in 2010, defeating Republican challenger Rob Cornilles with 54% of the vote.

Tenure and resignaton[edit]

Wu was a member of the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a group of moderate Democrats in the House. In 2009, he received a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.[10] He was also a member of the Executive Board for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as Chair from January 2001 to January 2004.

On July 22, 2011, The Oregonian reported that a young woman left a voicemail at Wu's campaign office accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter. The woman is the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor. Wu acknowledged the encounter and said it was consensual.[11] House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation into the allegations.[12] Wu initially indicated that he would not resign but would also not seek reelection in 2012.[13] Several days later, however, Wu announced he would resign following resolution of the 2011 US debt ceiling crisis.[2] He resigned on August 3, 2011.[14]

Committee assignments[edit]


In 2014 BuzzFeed reported that not only does he still live in the Washington area, he frequently returns to the Capitol and House offices to visit friends, many of whom are still serving, such as Rep. Peter DeFazio. He also attends the annual Congressional Baseball Game, sometimes sits in on hearings and even occasionally ventures onto the House floor, a privilege he is allowed as a former member.[5]

Under the terms of his divorce, Wu explained to BuzzFeed, he must live in the Washington area until his two sons have finished high school. His income primarily comes from consulting for Chinese companies seeking to do business in the U.S.; he is also sometimes quoted in the Chinese media about issues such as the Senkaku Islands dispute (he supports China's claim to sovereignty over the islands, currently administered by Japan[15]).

Wu would not discuss his resignation, but others did. "He's overcome a lot," says DeFazio. “He's being a good dad to his kids, and I know he's doing some work that relates to China so I think he's in a very different place than when he left. People don't know the facts of his personal life ... but it was a very, very difficult time."[5]

Wu is also treasurer of the Education and Opportunity Fund, a political action committee that supports county-level Democratic committees. At the time of BuzzFeed's article, he was trying to organize a student exchange program to allow Chinese and American students to tour the other country's space-program facilities, an exception to the prohibition on cooperation that otherwise exists. He said he eventually intended to return to Oregon.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Wu married Michelle Maxine Wu in 1996, and they have two children. In December 2009, he filed for separation from his wife, citing irreconcilable differences.[16]

Three weeks prior to the 2004 elections, The Oregonian published an article reporting that Wu had been accused of sexually assaulting an ex-girlfriend while attending Stanford.[17] Stanford made Wu attend counseling, and he was disciplined by the university in 1976.[18] Criminal charges were never filed, but the story prompted Wu to hold a press conference apologizing for "inexcusable behavior".[19]

In February 2011, Willamette Week[20] and later The Oregonian reported that, in the runup to the November 2010 election, Wu began behaving erratically and that staffers "demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment."[21] The erratic behavior that triggered the staff's departure was reported to be no single incident but rather a pattern of behavior that included Wu's emailing his staff photos of himself in a tiger costume the day before Halloween.[20]

After Wu won re-election, at least six of his staffers left, including his longtime chief of staff and his communications director.[22] In a statement, Wu acknowledged he has sought "professional medical care" and attributed the problems to the stress of being a single father, the death of his father, and his political campaign.[21] The Oregonian has reported that a campaign contributor gave Wu a prescription painkiller, identified by the staffer present as oxycodone to help alleviate an episode of severe neck pain.[23] Willamette Week quoted the donor as saying the pills were ibuprofen.[24] Wu has admitted taking the painkiller, saying that it was an act of bad judgment, but claiming that he did not know what it was.[25]


  1. ^ "David Wu". The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Pope, Charles; Janie Har; Beth Slovic (July 26, 2011). "Rep. David Wu boxed in by ethics investigation, forced to resign after pressure from colleagues". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ Shear, Michael D. (July 26, 2011). "Wu to Resign From Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ Chisholm, Kari (July 25, 2011). "If Wu resigns, what happens? (corrected and updated)". BlueOregon. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Nocera, Kate (July 16, 2014). "The Strange Case Of The Congressman Who Resigned And Never Left". BuzzFeed. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ Lydgate, Chris (August 11, 1999). "A Question of Conscience". Willamette Week. Retrieved September 13, 2006. 
  7. ^ Nishioka, Joyce; Janet Dang (July 15, 1999). "David Wu in the House!". Asian Week. Retrieved September 13, 2006. 
  8. ^ www.NationalJournal.com[dead link]
  9. ^ 2000 U.S. House of Representatives Results. U.S. Federal Election Commission. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
  10. ^ "Representative David Wu (OR)". Philipsburg, MT: Project Vote Smart. November 3, 1998. 
  11. ^ Pope, Charles; Janie Har; Beth Slovic (July 22, 2011). "Sources: Young woman accuses Oregon Rep. David Wu of aggressive, unwanted sexual encounter". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Brady, Jessica (July 24, 2011). "Pelosi Seeks Ethics Investigation of Wu". Roll Call Politics. 
  13. ^ Bresnahan, John; Allen, Jonathan (July 24, 2011). "Defiant Wu will not resign". Politico. 
  14. ^ "David Wu resigns from House amid scandal". TheHill. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ Pengfei, Zhang (June 15, 2014). "Former U.S. congressman: Diaoyu Islands part of China". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Congressman Wu files for separation from wife". The Oregonian. December 28, 2009. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  17. ^ Gunderson, Laura (October 12, 2004). "Allegation of Assault on Woman in 1970s in College Shadows Wu". The Oregonian. 
  18. ^ John Bresnahan and Jonathan Allen. Wu at center of sex allegation, Politico, July 22, 2011.
  19. ^ Cole, Michelle (November 3, 2004). "Wu Cruises to 4th Term in Bitter Race". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. 
  20. ^ a b Beth Slovic (February 18, 2011). "Documents Show Congressman David Wu's Staff "Threatened to Shut Down His Campaign"". Wweek.com. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Rep. David Wu's staff confronted him over concerns about his mental health". The Oregonian. February 19, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Report: Congressman urged to get psychiatric help: Staffers became increasingly worried at Rep. Wu's erratic behavior". MSNBC. Associated Press. February 19, 2011. 
  23. ^ The Oregonian (February 22, 2011). "Oregon Rep. David Wu airs regrets, owns up to taking prescription painkillers". OregonLive.com. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Strange Wu". Wweek.com. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Rep. Wu won't resign, seeks re-election | kgw.com Portland". Kgw.com. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Elizabeth Furse
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 1st congressional district

1999 - 2011
Succeeded by
Suzanne Bonamici