GOP Lawmakers Go On Defensive, Apologize For Skinny Dipping During Israel Trip

Several members of the GOP spoke about and apologized for a recent incident in Israel in which several members of the party went skinny dipping while visiting the holy land.

The lawmakers opened up about the incident after Politico on Sunday revealed that 30 GOP lawmakers traveled to Israel in August 2011 and various lawmakers, aides, and family members took a late night swim in the Sea of Galilee, some in various states of undress.

Following that report, a spokesman for GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor said those House Republicans involved in the incident were scolded after returning from Israel in 2011. According to Cantor spokesman Doug Heye:

“Twelve months ago, [Cantor] dealt with this immediately and effectively to ensure such activities would not take place in the future.”

Among those caught in the act were Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas who apparently swam in the Sea of Galilee completely naked. Yoder told the political publication, “regrettably I jumped into the water without a swimsuit.”

Yoder later released a statement which read:

“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.”

Other lawmakers and their families were quick to note that they had nothing to do with the skinny dip incident including Rep. Ben Quayle of Arizona and his wife who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time. Mrs. Quayle told CNN:

“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. 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 GOP members named by the report include Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida, Rep. Tom Reed of New York, Rep. Jeff Denham of California, and Rep. Michael Grimm of New York. Not everyone named felt the need to strip completely down and go for a swim.