Last month, the Oregonian reported that Congressman David Wu lost nearly all of his senior staff leadership in the days after the November election. Now, the Oregonian and Willamette Week are telling us why.
Wu's behavior in the closing days of the 2010 election was so outrageous and bizarre that one staffer told the O, "the only thing worse than losing the campaign would be winning it." It got so bad, according to the O, that staffers tried to convince Wu to seek psychiatric hospitalization:
Earlier and gentler efforts had failed, so the tight-knit group of high-level staff took other steps, including quiet inquiries about the availability of beds in hospitals in Portland and Washington, D.C., multiple sources familiar with the effort told The Oregonian.
Several staff members confronted Wu for the final time on Oct. 30. Wu’s psychiatrist was brought into that meeting as well, joining the group at the Portland campaign headquarters by speaker phone. The meeting was held after four consecutive days of troubling behavior that led the staff to agree that Wu needed a higher level of medical care, according to people intimately familiar with the events of that period.
"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 that day. "No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help and you need to be protected. Nothing else matters right now. Nothing else."
Wu, however, remained defiant, sources said. He left the meeting and said he was going to a movie.
The Oregonian's reporting details the day-by-day of what happened in those closing days - including his belligerent speech at the Wash Co Dems on Wednesday, a confrontation at a downtown pharmacy on Thursday, his bizarre behavior at the Portland airport on Friday, and a series of late-night emails at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Willamette Week has extended quotes from five emails, which are deeply strange:
Nineteen minutes later, at 1:22 am PST, a second email from Wu’s official email address went to multiple Wu staffers under the subject line “not funny.”
The email read as if it had come from one of Wu’s two children; the name of his middle-school-age daughter appeared at the end of it as a signature. But it’s not clear whether she sent the email in the wee hours of the morning or did so at the request of her father. Another possibility—the one that apparently disturbed staffers—is that Wu sent the email on his own, pretending to be his child. In any case, the email suggests Wu had been sparring with his staff.
“You’re the best, but my Dad made me say that, even though you threatened to shut down his campaign.” ...
Six minutes later, at 1:38 am, a fourth email arrived in staffers’ inboxes. The content related to Wu’s drinking. The subject line contained one word: “wasted.”
The email, with Wu’s son’s name at the end, said: “My Dad said you said he was wasted Wednesday night after just three sips of wine. It’s just that he hasn’t had a drink since July 1. Cut him some slack, man. What he does when he’s wasted is send emails, not harass people he works with. He works SO hard for you … Cut the dude some slack, man. Just kidding.”
Willamette Week also published a bizarre photo of Wu that was attached to one of the emails.
After the events of the week, and the early Saturday emails, the big intervention was on Saturday. Neither WW or the O have any additional details about the next 72 hours - until Wu's election night victory speech on Tuesday night.
I'll have more thoughts about all this later. For now, I'll simply ask you: What should be the next chapter in David Wu's life and career?