Report: GOP lawmakers scolded for Israel antics
Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas apologized after a report indicated he skinny dipped in the Sea of Galilee.
August 20th, 2012
08:18 AM ET
6 years ago

Report: GOP lawmakers scolded for Israel antics

(CNN) – A group of House Republicans were scolded last year for their behavior during a fact-finding trip to Israel, including skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, a spokesman for GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor said late Sunday after reports of the incidents were published online.

"Twelve months ago, [Cantor] dealt with this immediately and effectively to ensure such activities would not take place in the future," Cantor spokesman Doug Heye wrote in a statement.

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On Sunday Politico reported that 30 GOP lawmakers went on the trip to Israel in August 2011, some with their families. At least one traveled to Israel with his wife, who was more than eight months pregnant. According to the report, many of the lawmakers, their aides, and family members took a late night swim in the Sea of Galilee in various states of undress.

The report said Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas went swimming completely nude. He apologized in a statement to Politico, writing "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," Yoder continued in the statement.

The wife of a second congressman, Rep. Ben Quayle of Arizona, wrote in a statement to CNN that neither she nor her husband had any knowledge of the skinny dipping incident.

"Ben and I and our daughter Evie were there together that evening in the Holy Land, although I was eight and a half months pregnant with her," Tiffany Quayle wrote. "We were neither party nor witness to any of the inappropriate behavior described in the article, nor were we a part of, or aware of any inquiry. We did return to Arizona with some water from the Sea of Galilee to baptize Evie after she was born."

Other lawmakers named in the Politico report included Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida, Rep. Tom Reed of New York, Rep. Jeff Denham of California and Rep. Michael Grimm of New York. . The report also indicated that the FBI initially looked into the incident.

The Sea of Galilee is an important religious site for Christians, and is where the Bible says Jesus walked on water and fed 5,000 people.

A spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is charged with electing Democrats to the lower chamber, wrote in a statement Monday the Israel antics looked "more like a scene out of Animal House than a delegation of Members of Congress representing America in Israel – one of our most important security partners."

“Republican leaders knew that these House Republicans’ behavior was inappropriate and wrong, but kept the FBI investigation under wraps for more than a year," DCCC communications director Jesse Ferguson wrote. "What other inappropriate, embarrassing behavior have Republican Members of Congress been engaged in that Republican Leaders are keeping under wraps? It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of this House of Scandal given how many House Republicans face FBI investigations.”

CNN's Kate Bolduan and Greg Morrison contributed to this report.

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Filed under: House of Representatives • Israel
soundoff (76 Responses)

    Parting the Red Sea Mr. Yoder? lol. How embarrassing. Your constituents need to recall you.

    August 20, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    My response is: "Who cares?" Was this a taxpayer funded trip? If it was, did the folks who brought their spouses and families reimburse the government for their travel expenses? If not, then that should be the story – not someone playing Huck Finn in the Sea of Galilee.

    August 20, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Hmmph. Eric Cantor "dealt" with it. Not a problem. That's how he dealt with it, it's "not a problem."

    Hey, Joe Scarborough! Want to know what is wrong with some of the Republicans? Anger makes you stupid.

    August 20, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  4. plain&simple

    Those wild republicans!!! Might have to change parties if you keep it up!!!

    August 20, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. v_mag

    So, when was Cantor going to mention this little embarrassing incident and coverup?

    This fall, things are going to look a lot more like the Dead Sea than the Sea of Galilee for the Repugnant Party.

    August 20, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. keith

    Its nice to know that they are conducting themselves so maturely and representing the country that they serve in such an honorable fashion while abroad.

    August 20, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  7. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    Once again, the GOP are an embarrassment to America. They insulted how many people with these antics? They angered how many countries?

    August 20, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  8. Gary

    I'm not a fan of Republicans and all but exactly what is the big deal here? Going in a body of water nude is an offensive act that requires someone to say sorry? It's the human body for ______ sakes.
    Not sure what seems worse here the fact that someone in the Republican party is demanding an apology or that Rep. Kevin Yoder apologized. One needs to grow up the other nees to grow a pair...

    August 20, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. El Flaco

    As much as I hate the subversive Republican Party and American Conservatism, I can't see anything wrong with a group of adults skinny dipping. If no kids were present and the locals did not see (or were not offended if they did see) then it sounds like harmless adult fun.

    We've all been skinny dipping. It is always fun.

    August 20, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. GG

    Big deal.. Interesting the timing of this story considering it happened last year. Who cares? Let's get on with the business of fixing our collapsing economy.

    August 20, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Klancy Schmertz

    What's wrong with skinny dipping?
    Especially at night? With friends? It's not like one is some kind of pervert or exhibitionist.
    Get real.
    What a bunch of prudes.

    August 20, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. Hank A

    I love that they went skinny dipping, it makes them look more socially liberal which is what my Republican Party needs. Social Liberals & Fiscal Conservatives. Dump the religion in the GOP. Don't worry about abortion, it is a woman's choice not the State's. Let get back to the business of small government and turn this country around.

    August 20, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  13. Jerubbaal

    No mention of the fbi asking question cocerning their actions. CNN might as well be a fox affiliate the way that you carry the repubs water. I guess increased revenue from ads and stocks warrants needing to keep this election close. Dollars over truth, what a business model for a major news outlet.

    August 20, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. 1byrd

    In itself, this is not a serious issue. But. Considered in toto, and in view of the consistent self-serving nature of the Republican Congressionaql caucus..... it's...... well..... consistent. Jobs Jobs Jobs!!! And an unhealthy dose of austerity. "Hey guys, let's fly to Israel on the taxpayers' dime and figure some way to call it "business."

    August 20, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. russ

    Party on dude!

    August 20, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  16. DC Observer

    Very very old news and already dealt with

    let's not make the election sill season any more dramatic and sillier than it already is -- DEAL WITH ISSUES NOT SILLINESS

    August 20, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  17. TheTraveler

    Good grief, what a non-issue, even for Republicans!

    August 20, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. kelvin

    so what? i love how being naked is frowned upon in america... country founded by a bunch of prudes

    August 20, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. Q

    Nothing to see here folks. Move along. Do as we say, not as we do................TEAMERICA

    August 20, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. Dann

    Unless skinny dipping is illegal or they were using this trip as a taxpayer paid vacation for their family then I don't give a rat's butt.

    August 20, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. Pamela Wright

    I don't see what the big deal is. So some lawmakers went into the water without any clothes on. Is the human body such a horrible thing when unclothed that it will somehow pollute the water? If these people had dumped garbage or chemicals into the water, that would be cause for outrage. I am not in the least concerned that some congresspersons and their companions had fun playing in the water in Israel. I AM concerned with how these elected officials vote on issues of health care, education, jobs, and other things to do with public welfare. Global climate change is likely to effect the Sea of Galilee a heck of a lot more than will a few people skinny dipping in it. Google it and find out what I mean. It only takes a minute.

    August 20, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. DC Johnny

    And the SUMMER OF DISTRACTION rolls onward.

    Keep it up, media. Anything to avert the attention from the flailing economy and rise of communism and fascist islamic fundamentalism worldwide due to the weakness of our chief executive.

    August 20, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  23. Izza Rollin

    Wonder what this 30 GOP fact-finding tour cost the American people? At the same time this very congressman were holding the American economy hostage during the so called "budget crisis", a fiasco that according to CBO cost us at least a billion dollars. What a bunch of hypocrits!!!!

    August 20, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. Jake

    Do as I say, not as I do. If this were Democrats, Boehner and his mother would be demanding a thorough investigation by the FBI, CIA, Interpole, and everyone they can name. "It happened a year ago" doesn't make it less, it's just that it's now it got leaked out. If it wasn't a big deal a year ago, why didn't they apologize then? No, only when caught do the the apologies come out. Bunch of phonie clowns living off high and mighty on the taxpayers dime.

    August 20, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. Marty, FL

    First Akin, now sacrilegious insensitivity from politicians at the Sea of Galilee. Sad.

    August 20, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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