“The people of Oregon selected me to do this job, and I intend to perform it and perform it well,” the Oregon Democrat told KGW-TV on Saturday, adding that he believes he still has the respect of his colleagues on Capitol Hill.
Oregon voters “will have their opportunity to judge me going forward from here. I can only assure them that I am in a good place now and they will have a chance to see me perform, and they will make their decision in the next election,” he said.
At least six members of Wu’s staff, as well as leaders from his campaign team, resigned after the 2010 midterm election amid complaints about his behavior, the Oregonian has reported.
Wu said stress stemming from the campaign and family obligations were to blame, but he also indicated that he has been diagnosed with a mental health condition that he would not divulge.
“There are personal things, even for a Congressman,” he said. “I think it is appropriate to have some sphere of privacy about the specific diagnosis, because I’m not the president of the United States with my finger on the nuclear trigger.”
He also said he was not obligated to make his mental health issues public before the election.
“It was a very, very challenging campaign,” Wu said. “And I think that every family, every campaign, has things that they put out in front of the house and things that stay indoors.”
He has sought professional help, and is receiving counseling and medication, he added.
Wu said his public decision in the summer of 2010 to stop drinking alcohol gave voters the wrong impression, and he emphasized that he does not have a substance abuse problem.
“If you do stop drinking, don’t brag about it, because people think that you have a problem,” he said. The decision to reduce alcohol was part of a weight-loss regimen, and he said he did not drink at all for about five months.
He has also acknowledged taking painkillers from an unidentified campaign donor for unspecified, episodic severe pain, for which he had already been prescribed medication.
“He offered me an alternative painkiller, I’m not sure exactly what that was, and I took two tablets,” Wu said Saturday. “That was a very, very foolish thing to do. That’s what pain and some bad judgment will do. I shouldn’t have done it, and I recommend no one ever do that.”
Wu took responsibility for authoring e-mails sent from his Congressional BlackBerry to staff members that were written in his children’s voices. He said he shouldn’t have written the e-mails and that they were the result of playing with his children. He also e-mailed photos of himself wearing a tiger costume for Halloween that have received much scrutiny in the media.
“My kids and I were joshing around, and it was not appropriate, it was unprofessional. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.