So Oregon Rep. David Wu is resigning from Congress in the wake of his “unwanted sexual encounter” with the 18-year-old daughter of a campaign donor and old friend. Good grief!
What is in the water in Oregon? Rep. Wu gives the state the full grand slam of political sex scandals: Congressman, senator, governor, and mayor of its largest city.
Let’s call the roll.
Sen. Bob Packwood. Oregon’s dean of horndogs seems almost quaint now, with his “awkward and boorish” passes at multiple staffers in the 1970s and ’80s. Descriptors like “groping” and “fondling” (and “wiggling his tongue” — ecch) were used when his many harassments were made public in 1992.
Packwood wasn’t just a senator — he was the powerful ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. He blamed booze and tried to ride it out, but finally resigned in 1995 rather than be expelled. But hey, at least his victims were adults.
Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. He was Oregon’s popular chief executive from 1987-91, and from 1973-79 he was the innovative mayor of Portland, where he led the mass transit innovations that spurred the city’s current boom. However, in 2004 Goldschmidt admitted to sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl while he was mayor in 1975. (That girl, Elizabeth Dunham, died earlier this year.) The statute of limitations saved him from doing felony jail time, but the crime was hideous enough that his official portrait was actually pulled from the state capitol this year.
Mayor Sam Adams. Portland’s current mayor had sex with a teenaged boy in 2005 and then lied about it in order to get elected in 2008. Adams was 42 and the boy, Beau Breedlove, was 17 when they met and began meeting outside the office. (Both insist that despite all appearances, their relationship was plantonic until Breedlove turned legally 18 in June of 2005.) After he was safely elected, Adams was forced to admit he had lied to voters to cover up the affair. He remains in office.
(As an aside, the name Beau Breedlove has to rank up there with Fanne Foxe in the annals of political dalliance.)
As far as I can tell, no other state can claim the full grand slam of sex scandals. (Ones made public, anyway.) New York comes close with the love-nest shenanigans of NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s call girl, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (among others). California has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s love child, Rep. Gary Condit‘s cover-up, and the love troubles of Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa. But both states lack the salacious senator.
Granted, Oregon has a lot to keep up with in the Pacific Northwest. Idaho Sen. Larry Craig was charged with lewd behavior in airport bathroom, for pete’s sakes, and actually pled guilty to reduced charges before claiming it was all a mistake. Washington Sen. Brock Adams was accused in 1992 of spiking the drinks of women before harassing or even raping them. (Uh-oh: he also attended Portland public schools as a boy.)
But c’mon, Oregon: you’ve got to have higher standards than that, right? Even if your water does come from a place called Bull Run.