Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) weighed in on the calls for Oregon Rep. David Wu’s resignation today, saying they were “premature.”
“I understand that he has said he is seeking mental health services and that’s the appropriate step for him to take. If he had a broken arm, he’d get it fixed,” he said. “I believe that mental illness and physical illness both are treatable, and we ought to treat them both as illnesses.”
He added that while he has not spoken to Wu or his staff about the matter, he “would personally believe talks of resignation are not appropriate at this time.”
Wu is facing growing pressure to resign after detailed reports emerged of the seven-term congressman’s erratic behavior around last November’s midterm elections. His bizarre conduct — including emailing a photograph of himself dressed in a tiger suit to employees — led staffers to stage multiple interventions and request he check into a psychiatric hospital.
Last week, one of the state’s largest newspapers published an editorial calling on Wu to step down — not because Wu has admitted seeking psychiatric help, but because of a lack of candor. “Wu should have been forthcoming about his medical treatment when it began. … Whatever the price of candor, the price of its absence is higher. Wu can recover his health, but public trust is lost forever. He should step down.”
State Republican chairman Allen Alley has also signaled he believes Wu should leave office, telling the AP, “He has a really important job, and the citizens of Oregon and the citizens of the congressional district deserve to have a congressman who’s completely focused on serving them and being a great congressman.”
After previously blaming his children for sending the inappropriate emails, Wu has now come clean and said he buckled under the stress of both being a single dad and running for re-election. In a Good Morning America interview last week, he maintained that he’s “in a good place now,” thanks to counseling and medication, and said he is fully capable of serving the public. “I emphatically can do that job, I am doing that job. I’ve gotten myself into a good place — where I’m taking care of my kids, I’m taking care of my 88-year-old mother and I’m taking care of myself and my constituents,” he said.
Over the weekend, in an interview with the AP, Wu also revealed that he was hospitalized in 2008 when he became dizzy and confused due to a reaction to medically prescribed Ambien and Valium.
Since Wu’s re-election, six senior staffers as well as his chief fundraiser and pollster have quit working for him.