David Wu: 'I am not resigning'

David Wu: 'I am not resigning' »Play Video
Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) on the set at the KATU studios on Feb. 26, 2011. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) has been facing questions about his mental health and on Saturday morning he stopped by the KATU studios to tell his side of the story.

The reports include details of odd behavior during his re-election campaign, late-night e-mails to staffers and reports of staffers leaving his office.

Seven of his staff members have resigned and State Republican Chair Allen Alley and two newspapers are calling on Wu to resign.

On Saturday, Wu addressed the issues at hand in a one-on-one interview with KATU Reporter Susan Harding. Following is a transcript of the interview:

Susan Harding - "First, what has been the reaction since you acknowledged on Good Morning America that you are undergoing treatment for mental health issues?"

David Wu - "Well, Susan, I want to make it a little bit easier for those who want help or need help to appropriately get it and to not be ashamed of it and to be able to talk about it. You know, the last couple of years have been challenging for me. I've been raising two little kids pretty much on my own. Last fall was a very, very tough election campaign and I said some things and did some things that I shouldn't have done. And as a result of the consequences of those things, I appropriately sought medical help and have been working through that in a very good way. I'm in a good place now and I'm very much able to take care of my 11- and 13-year-old kids, my 88-year-old mother who lives with us, and she's really helping us more, taking care of myself more and working very hard on taking care of my constituents also."

Susan Harding - "And when you talk about taking care of yourself, are you in counseling now and are you taking medications?"

David Wu - "Well, Susan, I am in counseling now and I'm taking medications on an appropriate basis."

Susan Harding - "And are you willing to say what medications you need to take now?"

David Wu - "Well, Susan, I'm not the President of the United States with my finger on the nuclear trigger, so I think that a Congressman, even a Congressman, gets some sphere of privacy and I'm not prepared to talk about specific medications or diagnosis. I think that that's something to be between my physician and me."

Susan Harding - "Well, we're glad to know that you're doing well now. But the Willamette Week newspaper, as you know, they published a photo of you in a tiger costume. Also, some e-mails that were sent in the early morning hours of October 30 and those e-mails seemed to be coming from a child of yours. Now it is our understanding that you sent those e-mails yourself? And what is the story behind the costume and behind those e-mails? What happened?"

David Wu - "Susan, I did send those e-mails and that was inappropriate. What happened that evening is that my children flew in from Washington, D.C., and I had not seen them in 30 or 35 days. They were being cared for by my parents there. So they flew in and we went out for a late dinner because they were hungry. Then they wanted to see my Halloween costume, and it was two nights before Halloween. And I just want to say this - you should never e-mail photographs of yourself in a Halloween costume, especially not to any co-workers, because it's inappropriate. Even two nights before Halloween, even if you intend to wear it to a private party, even if you're goofing around with your kids. I shouldn't have sent those e-mails and it was unprofessional of me to have done so."

Susan Harding - "Talking a little bit about the content of the e-mails, I know that one of them referred to a belief that staffers were threatening to shut down your campaign. Did you feel during the end of the campaign that staffers wanted you to pull out?"

David Wu - "No, there wasn't any particular comment about pulling out. It was that we had, like any campaign, lots of tense meetings, lots of tense telephone calls, a lot of difficult things to deal with and there was very caring concern on the part of some of my staff. At the end of the day, they aren't physicians and I brought my physician into the process and what he said is I can't diagnose you from 3,000 miles away. But I did seek appropriate help then and I've been working my way through it in a very positive way. I'm in a good place now and I'm able to take care of my family well, I'm taking care of myself well and I'm working very hard on taking care of my constituents well also."

Susan Harding - "Well, we're glad you're getting the help that you need but at the same time politicians are at a very high pressure environment. It's the nature of the job. Now is there a point when a Congressman such as yourself cannot do the job effectively because of personal issues?"

David Wu - "Well, I want to say this very, very clearly. The low point was last October and perhaps through the death of my father, a little bit later in November. That was the low point. I was able to run a vigorous campaign during that time and I'm very, very able to do the job of a Congressman now. I want to emphasize that I've been working very hard, that being the innovation Congressman, no one leads the innovation and technology in the U.S. Congress the way that I do - on issues of cyber security, on issues of health information technology, on training people appropriately for the jobs of the future. These are the issues that are important to the First Congressional District of Oregon, as wonkish as they sound sometimes. These are the issues that are appropriate for a high-tech district. I'm very able to serve the district but it's up to folks to judge over time and I think that Oregonians are very fair minded, open minded - that's the way Oregonians always have been."

Susan Harding - "And talking a little bit more about people's reaction to all of this. I know the Eugene Register-Guard has called for your resignation. Is there any set of circumstances where you would say 'it is time for me to step down?' "

David Wu - "Susan, I am not resigning. Now first and foremost, my family is the most important thing to me, my children are the most important thing to me - nothing is more important than my children. And as long as my family can go through this job, and the indications are that after 12 years I've taken good care of them and they are going through this well, there aren't any circumstances that I can imagine where I'm going to resign. The people of Oregon have selected me to do a job and I'm going to do it."

Susan Harding - "I do think a lot of people are concerned about seven staff members resigning, as they did, including your chief of staff. Also, political members of your team - your chief pollster and fundraiser - they've all moved away from you. Can you give us some more insight as to why. Why did they decide that they no longer wanted to work for you?"

David Wu - "There's a lot of turnover in the U.S. Congress. Historically, I have had very, very low turnover. And some of it is perhaps I'm regressing to the congressional average. I lost six out of 20 staffers. I always regret it when I do lose staffers - we have excellent staff. We're pretty much full up now in both Washington, D.C., and here in Oregon. We have an excellent staff and because of that they get excellent opportunities. The spokesperson for our United Nations Ambassador is a former staffer of mine. Several of the people who left the staff went on to excellent, excellent positions. I regret losing them. They're excellent people."