By Carla Axtman and Kari Chisholm.
Amidst all the reporting about Congressman David Wu, the departures of his senior staff, his bizarre behavior (especially in October 2010), and the medical issues that surround all of that - one big unspoken question has loomed: Is David Wu fit to be a Congressman, effectively serving and representing the 1st Congressional District?
And it's that fundamental question that led the two of us to ask for an interview with Congressman Wu. Given that he's been refusing interview requests from a number of local publications in recent weeks, we felt that we might be able to get under the surface of the upbeat talking points that he's been using in every public venue.
It took a few weeks to schedule, and we were initially promised only ten minutes for our interview -- an interview that would be held after 5 p.m., and didn't actually get started until 5:40 p.m. -- a perfect setup for a "Sorry, we're out of time" ejection. But to Wu's credit, he didn't cut us short. He spent just over an hour and talked at length - and in many cases, off the well-worn talking points we've heard already.
At first, the Congressman was nervous - especially as we started our questions with the toughest one we had. (After all, we thought we only had ten minutes, and that might only be enough for one or two questions. We weren't going to start with softballs!) As the interview went on, he opened up. As he often does in public, he veered off into funny and personal stories as a way of lightening the conversation. And he did, of course, spend considerable time addressing the substantive issues that he's working on in Congress - from human rights in China, to internet freedom, to creating jobs through technological innovation.
But over the course of an hour, we posed a number of tough questions. And he answered them. In retrospect, there are certainly some unanswered elements, some follow-ups that we could have pushed on. But in the interest of letting you in on the discussion, we've decided to publish large excerpts of the transcripts of our interview.
There's a lot, so we'll be releasing it in chunks today and tomorrow -- as we get the transcripts done.
Here's a taste of what we wanted to know:
Where was the Congressman during the final 72 hours of the campaign? Had he been sequestered by his staff, away from the public?
After having an extraordinary allergic reaction to prescription drugs in 2008, what was Wu thinking when he accepted an unknown painkiller from a donor in 2010?
A lot of senior staff left shortly after the election, even though the reporting thus far doesn't seem to add up to anything quite so dramatic. Why did they leave?
Why aren't his former staff and consultants speaking on-the-record to media? Are they under a legal obligation to stay quiet?
Why did his pollster send an email saying that his staff needed to be "protected"? Protected from what?
As to that big question - Is he fit to be in Congress? - we'll leave that to your judgment. We look forward to your comments and questions.
Dig in here:
- Part one: Why did his pollster say that his staff "need to be protected"?
- Part two: What happened that final weekend before election day?
- Part three: Have his former staffers been silenced?
- Part four: Why did so many senior staff leave?
- Part five: Has the media coverage been fair?
- Part six: Why take mystery pills from a friend?
March 23, 2011 | |