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.