GOP Lawmakers Engaged in Late-Night Drinking, Skinny Dipping During Holy Land Trip

Last August, while on a "fact-finding congressional trip" to Israel, several GOP lawmakers took part in a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee that involved at least one instance of skinny dipping.

According to multiple sources who spoke with Politico, over 20 lawmakers, aides, and family members participated in the revelry, with many jumping into the water fully clothed or "partially disrobed." Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) is the only GOP lawmaker who has confessed to removing all his clothes before entering the lake.

"A year ago, my wife, Brooke, and I joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee in Israel," Rep. Yoder told Politico in a statement. "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. 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."

According to Politico, some lawmakers blamed ther actions on "the religious significance of the waters," while others claimed they were "simply cooling off after a long day." Still others "privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role" in the hijinks.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who took part in the trip but not the festivities, reportedly scolded his colleagues for their behavior. Among the congressman known to have gone swimming with Yoder are Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ), and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA).

According to Cantor's deputy chief of staff Doug Heye, the FBI had contacted a staffer about the events of that night. "The staffer answered those questions and that appears to have been the end of it," Heye said.

Over 60 people were invited on the $10,000-per-person trip, which was sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation, an AIPAC-affiliated group. In addition to visiting holy sites across the country, the GOP members also met with high-ranking Israeli officials such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aide, Israeli President Shimon Peres, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, and American ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

They also met with Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad.

[photo via AP]