PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Senior staffers of U.S. Rep. David Wu were so alarmed over the Oregon Democrat’s erratic behavior just days before the November election that they demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment, a newspaper reported last week.
The Oregonian, citing interviews with a number of anonymous staff members, reported on its website that Wu was increasingly unpredictable on the campaign trial and in private last fall. He had several angry and loud outbursts and sometimes said “kooky” things to staff and potential voters and donors.
A similar report was carried on the Willamette Week newspaper’s website on Friday.
Wu, 55, who was born in Taiwan, was elected to Congress in 1998 and became the first Chinese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The fact that Wu was in the middle of a difficult re-election campaign from his Portland-area district made his behavior particularly worrisome to staff who organized a meeting with the congressman at his campaign headquarters on Oct. 30, with a psychiatrist joining by speakerphone.
“This is way beyond acceptable levels and the charade needs to end NOW,” wrote Lisa Grove, a senior and long-serving campaign pollster, in an e-mail to colleagues the day of the meeting. “No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help.”
Wu was defiant and left the meeting, saying he was going to a movie, sources told The Oregonian.
The newspaper said its account was based on interviews with multiple sources who worked for Wu in his congressional office and his campaign. The people interviewed talked on the condition they not be named, and The Oregonian said their stories were consistent and backed up by e-mails.
The newspaper said the 55-year-old Wu declined to be interviewed for its story. But his office provided a statement late Friday with the congressman saying he hasn’t always been at his best with staff and constituents and that he has sought professional medical care.
“Some of my stress was derived from a very tough campaign, but I was also dealing with raising two children alone and the death of my father,” Wu said in the statement. “I fully acknowledge that I could have dealt with these difficult circumstances better.”
After the Oct. 30 meeting, the campaign essentially shut down, the newspaper said. While no public announcement was made, Wu did not have another formal campaign event until he emerged on the night of Nov. 2 after winning a seventh term.
Since the election, Wu has lost at least six staffers, including his longtime chief of staff, Julie Tippens, and communications director, Julia Krahe, both in Washington, D.C. The Oregonian earlier reported that Wu also has lost nearly the entire political team that has been with him for more than a decade, including chief fundraiser Lisa Kurdziel and Grove. ♦