With Rep. Wingard, are we Republicans applying a double standard?

by Dan Lucas

David Wu

A year ago, in July 2011, reports came out that Democratic U.S. Rep. David Wu was being accused of an unwanted, aggressive sexual encounter. The 18-year-old daughter of a longtime Wu friend and campaign donor had waited six months before calling in May 2011 and leaving a distraught message on the phone in Wu’s Portland office. No official reports were filed. The 18-year-old believed there was not enough evidence to press charges. She felt as there were no witnesses, it would be her word against a seven-term member of the U.S. Congress.

The story hit the media on July 22, 2011.

Wu admitted a sexual encounter but insisted it was consensual.

Two days later, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked the ethics committee to investigate allegations against Wu. The next evening, Oregon Democratic leaders, including the state party’s executive director, met and came to a unanimous decision to ask Wu to resign. Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called for Wu’s resignation on July 26, 2011. Later that day, Wu announced that he was resigning – just four days after the story broke.

Matt Wingard

About a month ago, on June 13, Willamette Week ran an article, based on a January 2012 Oregon Department of Justice report, about a former aide to Republican state Rep. Matt Wingard who accused him of “giving her alcohol when she was underage, pressuring her to have sex, and keeping her on the public payroll after she ended the relationship with him and stopped reporting for work.”

Wingard said “the relationship was consensual and he never provided her with alcohol when she was underage.” In one of the subsequent articles that came out, a witness came forward and contradicted Wingard’s assertion that he never provided alcohol to her when she was underage.

The young woman also texted someone at the DOJ that Wingard had drugged her. Under the threat of a lawsuit from Wingard, the young woman issued a “statement of clarification” that she had “no evidence” of being drugged. In media interviews the day after her “statement of clarification”, the young woman was clear that although she had “no evidence”, she did believe her drink had been tampered with.

The story on Matt Wingard broke almost a month ago, and to date he has stepped down from his leadership roles and has decided not to run for re-election, but there haven’t been any calls by GOP officials for an ethics investigation or for him to resign.

Double Standard?

Rep. Wingard’s former aid, who didn’t even come forward until after Willamette Week ran across the DOJ report and ran their initial article, has been the subject of much blame and criticism from Oregon Republicans. My goodness what we would be doing to the Democrats if they treated the young woman who left the distraught message with Wu back in May 2011 like this? No one ever uncovered an official record of misconduct on the part of David Wu. No police reports, no indictments and no convictions. Not for his alleged sexual assault reported in July 2011 and not for the 1976 alleged attempted rape. The woman in 1976 declined to file even a formal complaint with the university. Yet the Democrats called for Wu to resign, and I don’t recall any blaming of the victim by Democrats last summer.

Rep. Matt Wingard, on the other hand, has two felony indictments by a grand jury for child abuse, has pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal assault against a 7-year old, and more recently, there are official reports with the Oregon Department of Justice, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office, and a possible additional file at the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office.

I think we Republicans may be holding ourselves to a different standard than we hold the Democrats.

To read my 3-part series on the Democrats’ “conspiracy of silence” that surrounded David Wu and Suzanne Bonamici’s role in it, please click here.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Oregon House | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • antityrant

    Mr. Lucas makes a good point about an ethics investigation. I hope the rules allow it in Oregon’s House of Representatives.

    From his description, the investigation would explore:
    1. Representative Wingard’s Aide’s payroll status and the accounting surrounding her absence from work. The implication is that someone besides Representative Wingard must have known about the absent employee and did nothing to correct the accounting.
    2. Representative Wingard’s alleged inclination to provide alcohol to minors and perhaps drugging them. The implication is that someone besides Representative Wingard must have known about the alcohol consumption by minors and did nothing to correct the situation.
    3. Representative Wingard’s alleged inclination for using underhanded means to pressure young women who work for him or around him into having sex with him. The implication is that someone besides Representative Wingard must have known about the alleged predatory behavior leading to sexual relations with young adult women, and did nothing to intervene.
    4. Representative Wingard’s Aide’s contact with the Oregon Department of Justice and the January 2012 Report. The implication is that someone besides Representative Wingard and his aide knew about the allegations and did nothing to get an investigation underway. The timing of the press coverage becomes an issue, since the report apparently was available in January 2012 and the story was printed after the May primary elections.

    I am guessing that the Oregon House Speaker, or Co-Speakers should make the referral to the ethics committee.

    Also, I am guessing that the budget for operating the Oregon House of Representatives will cover the cost of the investigation.

    Furthermore, I am guessing that an Ethics Committee Investigation would be abandoned if Representative Wingard were to resign immediately or at a date of his choosing, similar to Congressman Wu’s strange resignation scheme.

    Since a comparison is being drawn between two people, an important distinction is that Representative Wingard is an effective, highly respected, leader in the legislature, which could not be said of Congressman Wu. This distinction may be the reason for a delay in publicly calling for an ethics investigation in the present case. However, as Mr. Lucas explained, it must commence immediately without belittling a young, adult lady.

    Finally, Mr. Lucas neglected to mention Congressman Wu’s erratic behavior on the job, on the campaign and at other times, which admittedly is ancillary to the argument for an ethics investigation, but may help explain why Representative Wingard is receiving less urgent calls for his resignation. Most notably, within a month prior to the general election Congressman Wu sent strange email messages from his Congressional Blackberry pretending to be from his children to his staff, including a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume that appeared to be too small. And prior to that the campaign staff clandestinely suspended Congressman Wu’s campaign after demanding that he get psychiatric treatment for his erratic behavior. As we have come to expect in Oregon, these Democrat situations received no coverage in the media until well after the general election. So, either the Democrat campaign staff masterfully avoided disclosure or the media colluded with the campaign.

  • ShaneYoung

    As much as many Republicans and Democrats will hate to admit it, both parties have molded themselves upon platforms of double standards from everything from taxes to war to civil liberties.

    With regard to this, however, it does seem customary when things like this arise to simply point the finger at the other party and say “Yeah, well you guys weren’t so angry when one of your own did it!” So a self reflective piece like this is refreshing and valuable.

    When allegations such as the ones thrown against Wu and Wingard arise, they should be dealt with through the same means as they are with anyone else.

  • guest

    Double standard, e.g., “don’t do as I do, do as I say” – indeed, a recurring wart evident on both sides of the political aisle.

    Daily text/message from a Heart Warmer calendar quoting Mark Twain: “Always to right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

  • Disgusted

    I was at Dorchester 2010 and the incident was fairly common knowledge among Republican staffers the morning after it happened. There’s no way Republican House and Senate leadership didn’t know. Really boneheaded of them not to dump Wingard then.

    • antityrant

      Dump him as advocated by “Disgusted”? Or initiate an ethics investigation?

      From the sequence of events explained by Mr. Lucas, an ethics investigation immediately following the 2010 Dorchester Conference may have prevented further impropriety, saving everyone from the present challenge of replacing the party’s candidate after the primary election. Depending on the facts discovered at that time, Representative Wingard may have been found not guilty of any ethics violation.

  • Junk Address

    Whoa, for a second there I thought I was on BlueOregon. Great to see a Republican like Lucas with a sense of social justice.

  • Tom Joad

    “I think we Republicans may be holding ourselves to a different standard than we hold the Democrats.”

    I think you might be holding context and the truth to a different standard than most people.

    Par for the course in you and your wife’s smear campaign against other republicans.

    • 3H

      Care to elaborate? Who has he smeared? Wingard? Are the things he reported untrue?

      • Junk Address

        I find it ironic that the Lucas’ have come to the defense of one consenting adult (Berrier) while simultaneously TRASHING another consenting adult (Berschauer). Keeping it classy.

  • The Bill Post Radio Show

    John Davis will be the GOP nominee in November facing a weak opponent. John will make an incredible young State Representative in the Oregon House! I am so glad that I endorsed him and stood by him under the onslaught of attacks against him. He is a good and decent man who is bright, articulate and a very well rounded Conservative. Just what that district needs after all it’s been through.

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