Congressman David Wu Urged to Get Psychiatric Help

Oregon Congressman David Wu was showing signs of mental breakdown during his recent re-election campaign.

An Oregon Congressman was showing signs of mental breakdown during his recent re-election campaign.

AP (“Report: Congressman urged to get psychiatric help“):

Senior staffers of U.S. Rep. David Wu were so alarmed over the Oregon Democrat’s erratic behavior just days before the November election that they demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment, a newspaper reported Friday evening.

The Oregonian, citing interviews with a number of anonymous staff members, reported on its website that Wu was increasingly unpredictable on the campaign trial and in private last fall, and had several angry and loud outbursts and sometimes said “kooky” things to staff and potential voters and donors. A similar report was carried on the Willamette Week newspaper’s website on Friday.

The fact that Wu was in the middle of a difficult re-election campaign from his Portland-area district made his behavior particularly worrisome to staff who organized a meeting with the congressman at his campaign headquarters on Oct. 30, with a psychiatrist joining by speaker phone.

“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 the day of the meeting. “No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help.”

Wu was defiant and left the meeting, saying he was going to a movie, sources told The Oregonian.

The newspaper said its account was based on interviews with multiple sources who worked for Wu in his congressional office and his campaign. The people interviewed talked on the condition they not be named, and The Oregonian said their stories were consistent and backed up by e-mails.

The newspaper said the 55-year-old Wu declined to be interviewed for its story. But his office provided a statement late Friday with the congressman saying he hasn’t always been at his best with staff and constituents and that he has sought professional medical care. “Some of my stress was derived from a very tough campaign, but I was also dealing with raising two children alone and the death of my father,” Wu said in the statement. “I fully acknowledge that I could have dealt with these difficult circumstances better.”

After the Oct. 30 meeting, the campaign essentially shut down, the newspaper said. While no public announcement was made, Wu did not have another formal campaign event until he emerged on the night of Nov. 2 after winning a seventh term.

Since the election, Wu has lost at least six staffers, including his longtime chief of staff, Julie Tippens, and communications director, Julia Krahe, both in Washington, D.C. The Oregonian earlier reported that Wu also has lost nearly the entire political team that has been with him for more than a decade, including chief fundraiser Lisa Kurdziel and Grove.

The Oregonian (“Rep. David Wu’s staff confronted him over concerns about his mental health“)

Three days before the Nov. 2 election, U.S. Rep. David Wu’s most loyal and senior staffers were so alarmed by his erratic behavior that they demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment.

Their concern had been spiking for weeks in tandem with the Oregon Democrat’s increasingly unpredictable performance on the campaign trail and in private. He was loud and sometimes angry, some of them told The Oregonian. He said kooky things to staff and — more worrisome with a tough election fast approaching — around potential voters and donors.

[…]

Faced with a stalemate, the campaign essentially shut down at the very time when most other candidates were at their most frenzied. No public announcement was made, but campaign staff withdrew and Wu did not hold another formal campaign event until he emerged on Tuesday night after winning a seventh term.

Last month, The Oregonian reported that at least a half-dozen members of Wu’s staff had resigned after he won re-election in November. That group included his longtime chief of staff and his spokeswoman. In addition, he lost his campaign pollster and his fundraiser.

Wu declined to be interviewed for that story, and he declined to be interviewed for this one, despite multiple attempts by The Oregonian to reach him. He rushed away from a reporter after a speech on the U.S. House floor on Friday.

In an ideal world, voters would know that their congressman is suffering a psychological breakdown and public officials wouldn’t feel the need to hide the fact that they’re having trouble coping with the stresses of life and could seek professional help openly. Since we don’t live in that world, it’s a safe bet that Wu isn’t the only one of the 535 Representatives and Senators with mental health issues. And that’s leaving aside the known eccentrics.

FILED UNDER: Health, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. wr says:

    You can usually tell when a congressperson is having a mental breakdown. They start pledging allegiance to the Tea Party.

  2. the Boodge says:

    liberalism is a mental disorder!

  3. Black Sabbath says:

    wr, so pledging allegiance to God, guns, American oil, no illegal immigration, strong military, less government, less taxes, less abortion is a mental breakdown?

    Do you pledge allegiance to Obama’s 26 months of destroying our economy, our foreign policy and your own Democrat Party?