Republican congressmen took a dip in Galilee


(JTA) — A group of Republican congressmen visiting Israel last year jumped into the Sea of Galilee for a late-night swim, during which a freshman lawmaker swam naked.

The Aug. 18, 2011 incident, which was investigated by the FBI, was reported Sunday by Politico.

The late-night swim, following an evening of dinner and drinking, involved 20 people, including several Republican freshmen lawmakers, their families and staff members, according to Politico, citing unnamed sources.

Most swam in their clothes, or partially clothed, but Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) completely disrobed, according to the report.

Yoder said in a statement to Politico that he and his wife, Brooke, joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee.

"After dinner I followed some Members of Congress in a spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea and regrettably I jumped into the water without a swimsuit,” he said. “It is my greatest honor to represent the people of Kansas in Congress and [for] any embarrassment I have caused for my colleagues and constituents, I apologize.”

The other congressmen who took a dip, according to the unnamed GOP sources in the Politico article, were Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; and Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).

Some of the congressmen said they entered the lake because of its religious significance; others said they were cooling off and that alcohol may have contributed to their decision to jump in. 

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the most senior GOP lawmaker on the Israel trip, censured the 30 lawmakers the morning after the incident, saying they were distracting from the mission of the trip, according to Politico.

The FBI investigated whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but no formal allegations of wrongdoing were leveled.

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