David Wu announces resignation amid sex scandal

A December 2010 file photo of Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.).
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
David Wu
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., announced his resignation today following allegations he engaged in "aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior" with a young woman.

"The time has come to hand on the privilege of high office," Wu said in a statement. "I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations."

Wu said that his resignation would be 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," he said. "It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington."

National Democratic leaders had stopped short of calling for Wu's resignation, but House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday asked the House Ethics committee to investigate the allegations against the seven-term congressman.

Last week's allegation against Wu is the latest in a series of charges that the congressman has engaged in questionable behavior. Earlier this year, Wu acknowledged that he sent erratic emails to his staffers, including a picture of himself around Halloween in a tiger costume. Several of his staff members resigned following his re-election in November, and Oregon newspapers reported that his campaign staffers had pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help the week before the 2010 election. Wu said in February he has sought mental health treatment, including counseling and medication.

Now that Wu is resigning from Oregon's first congressional district, there will be a special election to replace him. Due to the results of the 2010 Census, the first district is expected to remain Democratic-leaning, although slightly less so.

The Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division said that any special election this fall would be held under the old district map, Democratic strategist Kari Chisholm reported at the website Blue Oregon. That would make it easier for Democrats to hold onto Wu's seat.

Depending on the timing of the special election, the Democratic party could either choose its candidate by convention or in a special election primary. Already, multiple Democrats had been preparing to challenge Wu in the 2012 primary, including state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brat Witt.

UPDATE: Pelosi has released a statement in response to Wu's resignation:

"Congressman Wu's decision today is a recognition of his need to focus on his children and their future," she said. "The timing of his decision is in the best interests of his constituents. My prayers are with him and his family."