During a 2011 fact-finding trip to Israel, a contingent of GOP freshmen lawmakers and “top leadership staff” allegedly had a few drinks and went for a late night swim in the Sea of Galilee.
And, yes, the FBI interviewed those involved over reports that they might have engaged in “inappropriate behavior.”
About 20 people took part in the swim (most of them clothed or partially disrobed) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) actually took off his all his clothes, according to POLITICO.
“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,” Rep. Yoder said in a statement to POLITICO.
“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,” he added.
Among those who participated in late night swim were Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), according to Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of POLITICO.
So, questions about whether this actually merited an investigation from the same agency that got its start fighting the mob aside, why did they jump into the lake?
“Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the ocean [lake?] said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in,” the report states.
Concluding a probe by the FBI, it appears no “inappropriate behavior” or “wrongdoing” occurred.
However, that’s not to say Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wasn’t irritated with the swimmers. According to a Cantor spokesman, he “dressed down” his colleagues the next morning, telling them that they were distracting from the purpose of the trip.
Citing several recent scandals, POLITICO suggests that this might become another black eye for a wildly unpopular congress. However, doesn’t it seem a bit much to put a late night dip in the Sea of Galilee in the same category as Reps. Anthony Weiner and Christopher Lee’s sexting scandals or David Wu resigning over an “unwanted” sexual encounter with a friend’s daughter?
Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for the American Israel Educational Foundation, said the following in an email to POLITICO:
As part of the trip, and after of day of meetings including with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, and briefings on Hezbollah and the border with Lebanon, trip participants traveled to the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
This location made it possible to visit a series of Christian holy sites the next day. After dinner that evening, some in the group went swimming in the biblically significant sea [lake?].
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Click here for the full POLITICO report. This story has been updated.