When a photo turned up a week and a half ago of New York Congressman Chris Lee shirtless, flexing and hoping to seduce a random woman he'd just met on Craigslist, there was no question what it meant, and in a matter of hours the newly minted and very much married House Rep resigned from his office. This photo of Oregon Congressman David Wu in a fuzzy tiger suit, however, is not quite as easily explained.
U.S. Rep. David Wu's behavior grew so erratic in the final weeks before his re-election last November that the Oregon Democrat's closest political advisers staged two of what some of them termed "interventions" to urge him to seek psychiatric help, WW has learned.
The paper details a series of bizarre e-mails sent from Wu's federally issued BlackBerry and a pair of strange incidents on last year's campaign trail that drove several of his staffers to flee en masse after the election.
Willamette Week also offers this caveat:
The e-mails do not offer a definitive account of why Wu's aides fled the congressman's office in significant numbers just after his sixth successful re-election campaign. They do reveal that Wu's staffers apparently had confronted the congressman about his drinking. They also suggest Wu faced accusations of harassment from his employees--and that Wu wasn't eager to listen to any of the advice.
The weird e-mails were sent in the early morning hours of Oct. 30. The first one was sent to a female staffer at 1:03 a.m. and contained no text, only the tiger suit photo.
Here it is, a bit larger:
Shortly after that a message with with subject line "not funny" appeared in the in-boxes of several Wu staffers. It appeared to have been written by Wu's middle-school-aged daughter (as it had her name at the end and was written somewhat childishly). Some staffers, however, have suggested it was written by Wu pretending to be his daughter.
"You're the best, but my Dad made me say that, even though you threatened to shut down his campaign."
A little later another e-mail was sent to two female staffers with a similar "You're the best" message, this one signed by Wu's young son. It also apparently had a different photo (thus far unpublished) of Wu in the tiger suit, now sprawled face down on a bed with his son above him putting his hands on his dad's shoulders.
The third e-mail was sent at 1:38 a.m. and had the subject line "wasted."
It was also signed by Wu's young son, saying:
"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."
Another e-mail was sent to staffers a few minutes later, which referenced Wu's divorce from his wife in 2009 and said:
"My Dad says you're the best because not even my Mom put up with him. We think you're cool."
Willamette Week is not the only publication that has pointed out Wu's strange behavior and the staff exodus it's brought on. The Oregonian published a detailed account of incidents (not including any donning of a tiger suit) in January.
Besides the e-mails, Wu raised eyebrows when he angrily bashed his opponent Rob Cornilles last year for being a "telemarketer" and "stingy with tips" as well as lashed out at the local media. He also showed up at the Portland airport and convinced a TSA agent to let him pass through security and go to a United Airlines gate where he petitioned exiting passengers to vote for him (the TSA agent was later "retrained" for allowing Wu to break the rules.
That's not to mention the 2007 speech on the House floor in which he warned of "Klingons in the White House."
Wu's spokesman has explained the tiger suit get-up as "David Wu joshing around with his kids the day before Halloween."
It's a reasonable explanation. But Wu's weirdness has been enough to scare off nearly his entire staff of political advisers, which would suggest that "joshing around with his kids" is not what people close to the congressman are worried about.
In any case, Wu (unlike Chris "Fit, Fun, Classy" Lee) seems to have no intention of hastily resigning--in fact he's refusing to answer anything to do with the photos besides sending out a short statement through a spokesperson.
Willamette Week says it will publish more details on the story this week.
We're all dressing up as Pooh Bear for the occasion.