David Wu

For other people named David Wu, see David Wu (disambiguation).
David Wu
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1999  August 3, 2011
Preceded by Elizabeth Furse
Succeeded by Suzanne Bonamici
Personal details
Born (1955-04-08) April 8, 1955
Hsinchu, Taiwan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Wu (1996–2009)
Alma mater Stanford University (B.S.)
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Religion Presbyterianism

David Wu (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: 吴振伟; pinyin: Wú Zhènwěi; born April 8, 1955) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Oregon's 1st congressional district from 1999 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

As a child of immigrants from Taiwan, Wu was the first Taiwanese American[1] to serve in the House of Representatives. In the wake of allegations that he made sexual advances on the daughter of a campaign donor, Wu announced that he would resign from office following resolution of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis;[2][3] he submitted his resignation on August 3, 2011. A special election was held on January 31, 2012, to fill the vacancy in advance of the regular 2012 election.[4] Democrat Suzanne Bonamici defeated Republican challenger Rob Cornilles to win this special election.

Since his resignation, Wu has remained in the Washington, D.C. area. He has been raising money for local Democratic parties, and organizing student exchange programs between the Chinese and American space programs. According to a 2014 report, he still frequents the House offices, where he visits with friends, sometimes sits in on hearings and even goes onto the House floor.[5]

Early life and education

Wu was born in Hsinchu, Taiwan. His parents were from Suzhou in Jiangsu province and settled in Taiwan due to the Chinese Civil War. The family moved to the United States in 1961.[6] Wu spent his first two years in the U.S. in Latham, New York, where his family were the only Asian Americans in town.[7]

Wu received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Stanford University in 1977 and attended Harvard Medical School for a time, sharing an apartment with future-United States Senator Bill Frist.[8] Wu did not complete his medical studies. Instead, he attended Yale Law School where he was awarded a Juris Doctor degree in 1982.

Law career

Wu served as a clerk for a federal judge. In 1984, he joined Miller Nash law firm.[9] In 1988, he co-founded the law firm of Cohen & Wu.[9] The firm focused on representing clients in Oregon's high-tech development sector, centered on "Silicon Forest."

U.S. Congressman

Wu in 2003


Wu was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, succeeding Democrat Elizabeth Furse. He narrowly defeated Republican Molly Bordonaro by a little over 7,100 votes. He won re-election in 2000, defeating state senator Charles Starr in the November election with 58% of the vote to 39% for Starr.[10] Redistricting after the 2000 census made the 1st considerably more Democratic, notably by adding a small portion of Multnomah County. Wu won re-election in 2004 over Republican Goli Ameri; in 2006 over Oregon state representative Derrick Kitts and two minor party candidates; and in 2008 with no Republican candidate running, he captured 72% of the vote to win a sixth term over four minor party candidates. He faced his most difficult reelection test in 2010, defeating Republican challenger Rob Cornilles with 54% of the vote.


Official portrait, 2007

Wu was a member of the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a group of moderate Democrats in the House. In 2009, he received a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.[11] He was also a member of the Executive Board for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as Chair from January 2001 to January 2004.

Wu funded virus research at the Oregon Health and Science University that may be the first effective treatment and vaccine for AIDS.[12] He authored legislation to promote research and product development by small businesses using a portion of federal research grants.[13] Wu was a staunch supporter of science and research at both the basic and applied levels.

Wu was a strong advocate for NASA and the space program. He served on the House Science Committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA, and on its Space Subcommittee, then chaired by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Wu defended NASA's budget and advocated for NASA goals for space exploration that are not subject to political influence.[14] He viewed student interest in space as a way to promote STEM education, and founded a space camp scholarship program for underprivileged children.[15] Wu continued this effort after he left Congress, and also started a program to send American students to China to learn about its space program. Chinese students were also included in order to promote international cooperation in space.

Perhaps Wu’s most enduring legacy is his successful effort with his Washington State colleague Brian Baird to create the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park located at the mouth of the Columbia River.[16] He expanded the Fort Clatsop National Memorial in 2002 and incorporated it into an expanded park in 2004.[17]


On July 22, 2011, The Oregonian reported that a young woman left a voicemail at Wu's campaign office accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter. The woman is the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor. Wu acknowledged the encounter and said it was consensual.[18] House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation into the allegations.[19] Wu initially indicated that he would not resign but would also not seek reelection in 2012.[20] Several days later, however, Wu announced he would resign following resolution of the 2011 US debt ceiling crisis.[2] He resigned on August 3, 2011.[21]

Committee assignments


Wu and his wife Michelle while he is sworn in, January 1999

In 2014 BuzzFeed reported that not only does he still live in the Washington area, he frequently returns to the Capitol and House offices to visit friends, many of whom are still serving, such as Rep. Peter DeFazio. He also attends the annual Congressional Baseball Game, sometimes sits in on hearings and even occasionally ventures onto the House floor, a privilege he is allowed as a former member.[5]

Under the terms of his divorce, Wu explained to BuzzFeed, he must live in the Washington area until his daughter and son have finished high school. His income primarily comes from consulting for Chinese companies seeking to do business in the U.S.; he is also sometimes quoted in the Chinese media about issues such as the Senkaku Islands dispute (he supports China's claim to sovereignty over the islands, currently administered by Japan[22]).

Wu is also treasurer of the Education and Opportunity Fund, a political action committee that supports county-level Democratic committees. At the time of BuzzFeed's article, he was trying to organize a student exchange program to allow Chinese and American students to tour the other country's space-program facilities, an exception to the prohibition on cooperation that otherwise exists. He said he eventually intended to return to Oregon.[5]

Personal life

Wu married Michelle Maxine Wu in 1996, and they have two children. In December 2009, he filed for separation from his wife, citing irreconcilable differences, and is now divorced.[23] He lives in the Washington DC area with his son and daughter.

Wu travels widely as a volunteer, encouraging young Asian Americans to participate in the American political system, and lectures in Chinese universities and businesses about Sino-American relations.


  1. "David Wu". The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  2. 1 2 Pope, Charles; Janie Har; Beth Slovic (July 26, 2011). "Rep. David Wu boxed in by ethics investigation, forced to resign after pressure from colleagues". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  3. Shear, Michael D. (July 26, 2011). "Wu to Resign From Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  4. Chisholm, Kari (July 25, 2011). "If Wu resigns, what happens? (corrected and updated)". BlueOregon. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Nocera, Kate (July 16, 2014). "The Strange Case Of The Congressman Who Resigned And Never Left". BuzzFeed. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  6. Lydgate, Chris (August 11, 1999). "A Question of Conscience". Willamette Week. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
  7. Nishioka, Joyce; Janet Dang (July 15, 1999). "David Wu in the House!". Asian Week. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
  8. www.NationalJournal.com Archived September 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. 1 2 http://www.opb.org/news/article/timeline-david-wus-life-and-career/
  10. 2000 U.S. House of Representatives Results. U.S. Federal Election Commission. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
  11. "Representative David Wu (OR)". Philipsburg, MT: Project Vote Smart. November 3, 1998.
  12. McNeil, Donald. "New Hope for H.I.V. Vaccine". Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  13. "H.R. 5789-SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act 110th Congress (2007-2008)". Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  14. Pope, Charles (March 7, 2010). "David Wu and space-geeks of Congress fight Obama's NASA plan". The Oregonian. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  15. Special to The Hillsboro Argus (May 17, 2011). "Wu awards space camp scholarships". The Oregonian. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  16. "H.R. 3819, Public Law 108-387". Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  17. "H.R. 2643, Public Law 107-221" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  18. Pope, Charles; Janie Har; Beth Slovic (July 22, 2011). "Sources: Young woman accuses Oregon Rep. David Wu of aggressive, unwanted sexual encounter". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  19. Brady, Jessica (July 24, 2011). "Pelosi Seeks Ethics Investigation of Wu". Roll Call Politics.
  20. Bresnahan, John; Allen, Jonathan (July 24, 2011). "Defiant Wu will not resign". Politico.
  21. "David Wu resigns from House amid scandal". TheHill. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  22. Pengfei, Zhang (June 15, 2014). "Former U.S. congressman: Diaoyu Islands part of China". Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  23. "Congressman Wu files for separation from wife". The Oregonian. December 28, 2009. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
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David Wu
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Elizabeth Furse
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Suzanne Bonamici
Preceded by
Robert Underwood
Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
Succeeded by
Mike Honda
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