GOP congressman admits skinnydipping

Aug. 20, 2012 at 2:26 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., has acknowledged skinny-dipping in Israel's Sea of Galilee while on a 2011 tour with other GOP lawmakers, staff and family.

Politico reported Sunday Yoder was the only one to fully disrobe when an evening of drinking led to a jump into the religiously significant lake by about 20 members of the Republican entourage. Some other lawmakers partially disrobed and others went in fully clothed.

The late-night swim on Aug. 18, 2011, during a fact-finding trip to the Holy Land led to an investigation by the FBI of any possible inappropriate behavior, more than a dozen sources, including witnesses, told the Washington publication.

"A year ago, my wife, Brooke, and I joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee in Israel," Yoder said in a statement to Politico. "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."

Politico's GOP sources said among those who went swimming were Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed of New York and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle of Arizona, Jeff Denham of California and Michael Grimm of New York.

Politico said some lawmakers said they went in the water because of the Sea of Galilee's religious significance -- it's where the Bible says Jesus walked on water -- while others said it was just to cool off after a long day.

The publication said the FBI probe does not appear to have led to any formal allegations of wrongdoing.

The incident didn't sit well with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who dressed down the 30 lawmakers the next day. Neither Cantor nor Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, who were both on the trip, went swimming, though some of their staff did, Politico said.

"Twelve months ago, [Cantor] dealt with this immediately and effectively to ensure such activities would not take place in the future," said Doug Heye, Cantor's deputy chief of staff.

"Last year, a staffer was contacted by the Bureau [FBI], which had several questions, the staffer answered those questions and that appears to have been the end of it."

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