Congressman David Wu’s troubles continue even as he announces an appointment-only process for meeting his constituents.

The latest revelations, first reported in Willamette Week and highlighted in The Oregonian, refer to a car crash last year.

The newspapers said he crashed his vehicle into a parked car in Portland last year, although the incident never showed up in a police report.

No one was injured in the February 2010 accident and Wu passed a field sobriety test. His spokesman, Erik Dorey, says Wu fell asleep while driving.

The incident is the latest in a string of revelations about the congressman, who represents the North Coast. He has said he was under extreme professional and personal stress before last fall’s election. Six of 20 of his staff left, including some high-profile colleagues. Many cited irrational behavior on the part of their boss.

Wu has apologized for what he calls a rough October, saying he was under extreme professional and personal stress but had received appropriate medication and counseling. Earlier, in 2008, he was hospitalized for observation after a bad reaction to Ambien and Valium.

Although there was no police report about the 2010 crash, the woman who called 911 said she assumed there was “some kind of disability if he was driving on the wrong side of the street.” She also said that Wu did not want her to call police. 

“He says he fell asleep,” says Karen Fog, in the recording. “I don't believe him.” 

He has since gone on record on “Good Morning America” and in an interview with The Daily Astorian insisting he is fit to serve. On the North Coast he has made no public appearances since his troubles have been highlighted. His March 5 trip to Astoria featured an invitation-only gathering of two-dozen community leaders, none of whom quizzed him directly about his ability to effectively serve Northwest Oregon in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As for the 2010 crash, Wu’s spokesman, Dorey, said there have been no other auto accidents since he started working for Wu in October 2009. He said the congressman had not taken anything that would have impacted his driving ability. Fatigue from travel and a long workday were the only factors, he said. 

“The congressman dealt with the accident exactly as any responsible person would. There were no injuries, and no laws had been broken, so it probably could have been appropriately handled through insurance alone.” Dorey said. 

 Fog called 911 shortly after 9 p.m. She was at home in the Forest Heights neighborhood of Portland with a friend, Barb Tymer, when they heard a crash outside the house. Tymer’s car was mashed. 

Dispatch sent over two officers, one of whom conducted a field sobriety test on the Democratic congressman. 

“He passed,” said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “There was no odor of alcohol, no visible sign of impairment.” 

Simpson said he did not know what kinds of tests were conducted, but stressed that it's not unusual for police to be called to an auto accident and not file an incident report. 

“Citywide we have traffic accidents every day that officers facilitate; we don't have the officers to investigate every accident for fault,” he said. 

Dorey said that Wu did not ask police not to file a report. Dispatch notes say that an officer requested that Wu's rental vehicle be towed. 

Asked if the congressman had pointed out his position to police, Dorey said: “At one point, one of the officers did indicate that he recognized Congressman Wu as a public official, but that was the extent of it. Congressman Wu did not volunteer this information to the officers.” 

Wu’s former law partner Stuart Cohen lives in the neighborhood. Cohen said Wednesday that he may have been out of town and did not see Wu after the car crash.

As Wu starts to appear in public more, his office has announced meetings with individuals and small groups across the 1st District. 

On March 24, Wu will hold “open office hours” at Seaside City Hall, 989 Broadway in Seaside and St. Helens City Hall, 265 Strand St. 

Wu’s office is taking meeting requests from the public. Appointments are being scheduled on a first-come, first served basis. To accommodate as many people as possible, each meeting will be approximately five minutes, his office staff said.

In the coming weeks and months, Wu’s staff say he will be holding a series of public town-hall forums, small business roundtables and industry work site visits.

To request an appointment, members of the public should call Wu’s Portland office at (503) 326-2901 or (800) 422-4003.


The Oregonian contributed to this story as part of an AP?member exchange.

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