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Republican Congressman Skinny-Dipped in the Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee
Photo Credit: Phil Sussman/Flash90

A group of Republican lawmakers on a trip to Israel last year jumped into the Sea of Galilee for a late-night swim, during which one congressman swam naked.

The incident, which took place on August 18, 2011, was first reported on Sunday by Politico.

The late-night swim, which followed an evening of dinner and drinking in Tiberias, involved over 20 people, including families and staff members of the congressmen, 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.

The 36-year-old first-term Republican, in a statement to Politico, said: “A year ago, my wife, Brooke, and I joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. 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.

“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.”

In comments to the Kansas City Star, Yoder added that it was dark when the group went for the swim and he was only in the water for about 10 seconds.

The other congressmen who went into the lake, 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.

The Sea of Galilee has religious significance in Christianity, as it is where Jesus is said to have walked on water.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the most senior GOP lawmaker on the Israel trip, did not take part in the late-night swim. According to Politico, Cantor censured the 30 lawmakers the morning after the incident, saying they were distracting from the mission of the trip. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R – Ohio), told Politico that Cantor “handled the situation swiftly and appropriately.”

The FBI investigated whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but no formal allegations of wrongdoing were leveled. Yoder’s chief of staff told Politico that “neither Congressman Yoder, nor his staff, have been interviewed by the FBI.”

Yoder is running unopposed for re-election in Kansas’ 3rd District.

JTA content was used in this report.

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