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)
  1. James PDX

    Was their behavior illegal? If so, then they should turn themselves over to the Holy Land authorities for whatever punishment comes with the crime. If not, who gives a flying duck?

    August 20, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. Drew

    This would seem to be an issue for Republicans because, well, they're Republicans. They tend to get their panties in a wad over insignificant stuff like this. Nudity? God forbid!! We can't have that! Not when unborn children are present!

    August 20, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. madness

    So what??? And I'm anti repug.

    August 20, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. graphite

    That's the Republicans for you. We get some people acting like free human beings, swimming in their birthday suit in the waters of the planet. I began to think there's hope for the Republicans after all. They do know real freedom, joy and communing with nature. But by criticizing them, the leadership has quelled any hope of their revival as spiritual and free beings who love life and the earth.

    I would hope for a party that would glorify and praise such action, showing envy for doing such a beautiful thing as swimming in the Sea of Gallilee – or any sea for that matter. But not the Republicans. They criticize it. Oh, well. I guess there is no hope for them, after all.

    August 20, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. Trace

    This is Horrible!!! I could understand if he was caught smoking crack or buying prostitutes

    August 20, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. Tom

    We all know that republicans keep their eyes closed when confronted by nudity.

    August 20, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. Nietodarwin

    Who cares about the swim. YOUR TAX DOLLARS are paying for the "dealing with it" or "the covering it up" or whatever.
    Was Congressman Adkin of THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY committee there, were there any "legitimate conceptions" there in the "holy land."????????? Nobody said you had to vote this year, if you don't like Obama, it doesn't mean you have to vote for these nuts.

    August 20, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. Linda K Smith

    The bigger issue is why does our government, and elected officials, continue to grovel before Israel? Israel, throughout it's entire existence, has been a taker – never, ever a giver...

    August 20, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. livingston

    If a Democrat had done it the republicans would have blown a gasket condemning it. But since it was a republican – well, what a naughty boy.Boy's will be boy's. No big deal. Hypocrites. Start to finish.

    August 20, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Alex

    I guess this is considered scandalous behavior to Republicans. Next, a GOP Congressman will be scolded for showing a bit of ankle in public.

    August 20, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Saboth

    Who cares how members of Congress swim? This is only a big deal to their prudish religious constituents. The rest of us couldn't care less. Although it seems weird to go swimming nude with people you work with and their families.

    August 20, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. Rico53

    Has anyone asked the Israeli`s how they feel about this ? I mean isn`t what they think more important here. Another point to be made here is how the Christians have responded to this , It seems it was all handled quietly and respectfully . I can only imagine what would have happened if they swam nude in waters that were touched by Mohammed ,Christians would have been murdered in retaliation.

    August 20, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. John Vance

    Even democrats will have a hard timing spinning this kerfuffle into anything meaningful

    August 20, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  14. Reformed Republican

    I have no problem with skinny dipping. I do care how other countries view our government representatives. I also have a problem with the action and them tying "Christian conservative" to themselves. Hypocrisy seems to fall short in descriptive terms.

    August 20, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Hood Out-sourcing-Jobs Outsourcing-his-Money and Outsourcing America

    When is Darryll Issa going to call for one of his witch-hunt investigation?..............oh, it's the religious right GOP, so this is okay? NOT!!!!

    August 20, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. Iowan

    This incident happened a year ago. Other than the upcoming election, what is the point in dragging it out now? I saw nothing in this article to suggest it bares repeating. This is a cheap shot at republicans, nothing more. I disagree with many republican viewpoints, but this time I would have to side with them. Move on.

    August 20, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. meyuns

    Its not a big issue but when the Republican party and the people they serve always bring religion into politics and try to legislate morals then their behavior in public becomes questionable.

    August 20, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. w l jones

    This is a case of welfare people who never work other wise they would been doing the country business instead horse around. Enough said.

    August 20, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. kevin

    Drunken Skinny dipping at a Holy site. To think, little Evie was baptised with that water.....

    August 20, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. Jim

    Big deal. Who cares! This should not even be a news item. (I'm a Democrat, btw.)

    August 20, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. miketofdal

    Thanks, Mr. Cantor, for your candid, Republican-style, admission...a year after the fact. Much like GWB who, on his way out the White House door, told the people of the United States that they'd been in a recession for a year.

    August 20, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Not surprised

    These guys say and do opposite things. Reminds me of the Bush years when GOP'ers were guilty of ethics and moral issues one after another.

    August 20, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. snowboarder

    people are concerned about swimming in the buff? get a life!

    August 20, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. lobo

    you travel in bad company when you hang with cantor and his ilk.

    August 20, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. yoder

    What's offensive is them pouring "yoder" water on their kids head!

    August 20, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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