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
2 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)
  1. Spwark

    Wow... pretty wild for Israel. I can only imagine the stories that will come out of Tampa.

    August 20, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. chedar888

    "The Sea of Galilee is an important religious site for Christians," NO SKINNY DIPPING IS ALLOWED..didn't the rep they see the sign?

    August 20, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. JD

    You can't see anything wrong with someone skinny dipping in honored Holy water that Jesus walked in?

    August 20, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Chaos

    We know what Olympic swimmers all do in the pool. Well...

    August 20, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Patrick

    Not sure if this story is hilarious or pathetic.

    August 20, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Knucklehead

    I could care less if these guys are swimming naked. The larger concern is, who paid the airfare and lodging for the families of these true conservatives?

    August 20, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Chaos

    "let's not make the election sill season any more dramatic and sillier than it already is - DEAL WITH ISSUES NOT SILLINESS"
    i
    Unless it is a Democrat. In which case you would gleefully be running with it.

    August 20, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  8. John Vance

    My mind is a blank on this article, as were the minds of the persons involved. Bad idea but no disater.

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

    No doubt Eric Cantor "dealt" with it. Looks like he's got the talking points handled too.

    August 20, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Keeping It Real

    Seriously? This is news? Democrats are increasingly desperate to paint the GOP in a bad light.

    August 20, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. Henry

    I'm a liberal, and except for the fact of who paid for this trip, if you have a problem with someone in the nude then it's a "You problem." You have no idea how your religious values are a burden on how you see life. Set yourself free. God would have nothing to do with any organized religion. Believe me God would love it if everyone in the world went swimming in the nude. Atleast you would not be fighting and killing each other over religious values. Truth is we will not have peace in this world until we get rid of all religions..it teaches us to hate one another. Only then will we really be able to understand God.

    August 20, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. JerseyJoe

    I wonder if any of them decided to make the sea a little.... yellower while they were swimming. Given that the Sea of Galilee is such a religious site to the Christian faith, that would be the equivalent of urinating on the walls of the Alamo.

    August 20, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. Joan

    This is an embarassment for this 'fact finding GOP mission' especially since it was in an area considered holy. They showed disrespect, lack of judgement and were poor ambassadors for the country. Since so many wives and children accompanied this very large mission, it would be interesting to see how their fares were covered. Hopefully the taxpayers didn't have to cover this quite luxurious vacation for them all.

    August 20, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    DC Observer wrote:

    Very very old news and already dealt with
    ----------------------
    Dealt with? Members of Congress were vacationing at taxpayer expense with their families. It was "dealt with" in the secret backrooms of the Republican Party, and swept under the rug. Those members should have been thrown out of Congress. At the very least, they should have had an official reprimand from the House, or even Censure.

    August 20, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Liberal Lutheran

    Actually–the insensitivity of skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee is the issue. It is like "necking" in St Peters, drinking a latte in the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake, or peeing in a sacred river in India. This is not a bunch of teens @a lake–or a couple in their own pool. They were doing US government work (supposedly). They align with the Religious Right. Remembering all my Sunday School stories, the Sea of Galilee is central–fishes & loaves, Walking on Water- some great miracles occured there. For those who believe of either parties–it's just not right. Frolic in the Greek Isles, skinny dip in Lake Mendota, but not in a religious site.

    August 20, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Jersey George

    Remember when republicans made a big deal of democratic congressman Anthony Weiner's personal problem last year that eventually led to his resignation? They and Fox News were on it 24/7 for weeks.

    August 20, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    So, a group of GOP lawmakers act like a buch of un-reconstricted Frat brothers on Spring Break while on a "fact-finding " trip? Is this any surprise, coming from a party that has tried to make the rules up as they go along? Is this what they were preoccupied with, instead of jobs, the debt ceiling, etc? It explains why nothing gets done. Its a lack of maturity and focus, but, hey, these are the same people that try to tell us about "legitimate" rape, cavemen living alongside dinosaurs, and how terrorists have infiltrated our country because their mothers snuck into the country 2 decades ago to have them born here, thus avoiding passport problems ( Louie Gohmert, R-TX). This is your GOP, folks, are you really surprised?

    August 20, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. Ted Davenport

    Jesus wore a Speedo, these jerks are disrespectful of our Lord and God.

    August 20, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. Josef F

    Hey! What happens in the Sea of Galilee stays in the Sea of Galilee

    August 20, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. wally

    Naked republicans...Ugh

    August 20, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. ART

    And who said our Rethuglican congress was a do nothing congress.They are doing everything but what they were sent there to do

    August 20, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Lee Downie

    Skinny dippin' is good for the soul !!!

    August 20, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Yeahona

    Oh my god, they were naked. Get over it folks! We came into this world naked. Swimming naked or being outdoors naked is not a big thing. It is a big thing if you are immature.

    August 20, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Avi Shlomo

    I am not sure which is worst...Nazi like oppression, ethnic cleansing, land stealing or dipping naked. you decide as Fox News Motto goes!!

    August 20, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Eric

    I don't get it. What's the big deal? If it is like a trip on tax payers money then I have a beef. If not then big whoop

    August 20, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
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