Rep. David Wu, facing an accusation of an unwanted sexual encounter with an 18-year-old woman and a request for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee, will not seek re-election next year and was pondering whether he would complete his term, a spokesman for the Oregon Democrat said Monday.
In a letter sent Monday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi requested the Ethics Committee investigation. The Oregonian, Mr. Wu's hometown newspaper, had reported that a California woman left a voice mail at Mr. Wu's office accusing him on an unwanted sexual encounter. Mr. Wu, 56, has said the encounter was consensual.
A few hours after the investigation request, Wu spokesman Erik Dorey told the Associated Press: "He's still determining his political future, but he will not run for re-election. He's fully focused on fulfilling his elected duties and serving his constituents to the best of his duties here in the House."
Mr. Wu tried to keep a low profile Monday as lawmakers returned to work and focused their attention on the debate over raising the debt ceiling. Mr. Dorey noted that Mr. Wu took part in House votes.
Mr. Wu, in his seventh term, was guaranteed a stiff primary challenge after seven staffers resigned in January because of unusual behavior that included sending a photo of himself in a tiger costume to a staff member and an angry public speech. Mr. Wu attributed those actions to a period of mental health challenges that began in 2008 as marital issues led to separation from his wife.
Those problems paled compared to the potential fallout from the encounter with the young California woman. Citing anonymous sources, the Oregonian reported that Mr. Wu told senior aides that the sexual encounter was consensual. The Portland paper reported Facebook notes indicated she graduated from high school in 2010 and that she registered to vote in California last August.
The paper said the woman decided not to press charges against Mr. Wu because there were no witnesses and it would have been her word against Mr. Wu's.
The heart of the 1st Congressional District is Washington County, a center of high-tech and suburban development and the home of David Robinson, a former Navy officer and municipal official who lost by a margin of 4-1 to Mr. Wu in the Democratic primary last year.
In 2004, Mr. Wu won re-election in spite of acknowledging a decades-old college incident in which he tried to force a former girlfriend to have sex. Voters said they disliked an opponent's attempt to use that against Mr. Wu.
The fierce debate over how to raise the debt ceiling overshadowed the potential Capitol Hill sex scandal. Lawmakers from both parties on Monday raced to come up with some way out of a political standstill that threatens the government's ability to pay its bills, leaving themselves little time or inclination to talk about Mr. Wu.
"I don't know the facts. Certainly, I agree with Leader Pelosi that the Ethics Committee must look at this and must look at it at an accelerated fashion," said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. "There has been an allegation made, and we need to know the merits of that allegation."
It took several days before the scandal the enveloped then-Rep. Anthony D. Weiner turned into a media frenzy. Mr. Wu could still face such a development if more information surfaced.