Romney, Ryan Criticize Kansas Representative's Nude Plunge

By: KAKE News/Associated Press Email
By: KAKE News/Associated Press Email

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UPDATE: Monday, August 20, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are criticizing a Republican congressman from Kansas who briefly swam naked in the Sea of Galilee.

Romney said Monday that last year's incident in Israel involving freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder was reprehensible. He says Yoder's action was a terrible mistake.

Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, called Yoder's actions unbecoming.

Yoder has apologized repeatedly for taking his nude plunge in the Sea Galilee during an August 2011 fact-finding trip to Israel. He says he was in the water for about 10 seconds.

The Sea of Galilee is a holy site for many Christians because the Bible says Jesus walked on water there.

UPDATE: Monday, August 20, 2012

Kansas lawmakers are reacting to news that U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder went skinny dipping the Sea of Galilee after night of dining and drinking during a congressional trip. Yoder is apologizing to his Kansas constituents, saying he is sorry for any embarrassment he's caused.

During a live radio interview Monday, Yoder answered questions about the August 2011 visit to Israel.

"I'm on today to apologize to my constituents for any embarrassment that they may feel. I know some folks my be very disappointed in my behavior so I'm here today to talk about that and really express the remorse I have for that moment," Yoder said.

The fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land is a rite of passage for members of Congress. Yoder admits he joined others after dinner one night for a swim in the Sea of Galilee, a Christian holy site where the Bible says Jesus walked on water.

"At some point I decided to join them and made the real mistake of going in without clothing and it's a regrettable incident," Yoder said.

On Monday, Yoder was scheduled to join other members of Congress in Wichita for an oil and gas legislative panel. Instead, he opted out of that event to deal with the scandal. Kansas lawmakers attending that panel took time to voice their opinions about what happened.

"Kevin is a longtime friend. I know him well and we'll see what he has to say. My understanding is he's talking to his constituents and that's the way it should be," U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said.

"We all have an obligation to behave in a way that's consistent with the office that we hold. I think that's absolutely true. The voters give us their trust so I think we all have an obligation to live up to that trust," U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo said.

Yoder admits he and his wife had wine with dinner that night, but says alcohol did not play a role in is decision to skinny dip.

"It was more of a spontaneous thing where other members were going in and it was the Sea of Galilee and it just seemed like a spontaneous moment," Yoder said.

Other congressional delegates and staff also swam in the Sea of Galilee that night, but Yoder was the only one to swim naked.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred.

UPDATE: Monday, August 20, 2012

The Kansas Democratic Party's chairwoman is calling on a Republican congressman to resign following the disclosure that he briefly swam naked at the Sea of Galilee during an official trip to Israel last year.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said Monday that freshman Congressman Kevin Yoder had embarrassed the state, and his actions raise questions about whether he's fit to serve in Congress.

Yoder apologized publicly for the incident, saying he regrets it. He said he was only in the water for about 10 seconds.

The incident occurred in August 2011 when he and about 20 other lawmakers and staff members jumped into the water. Politico reported Sunday that he was the only one among them who wore no clothes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Kansas lawmaker has apologized for an incident that occurred during a congressional trip to Israel where, after a night of partying and drinking, sources say he took off all of his clothes and jumped into the Sea of Galilee, a Christian holy site where, in the Bible, Jesus is said to have walked on water.

Politico reports that in August of 2011, Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder joined a number of other Members of Congress, their families and GOP staff in the late-night dip into the sea after a night of drinking. Sources who were in attendance say while some swimmers partially removed their clothes, Yoder was the only one who stripped completely naked.

The American Israel Educational Foundation sponsored the trip, which ran from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, 2011. Politico reports the trip cost AIEF upwards of $10,000 per person, according to records filed with the House Ethics Committee. More than 60 people took part in the trip.

The group of lawmakers was staying in Tiberias, a town located on the banks of the Sea of Galilee at the Scots Hotel where rooms run up to $1,000 a night. Politico reports that according to an itinerary filed with the House Ethics Committee, the group met for dinner at a popular restaurant located on the sea. According to sources who attended the dinner, after the dinner and some drinking, more than 20 lawmakers and senior aids decided to jump into the sea wearing all their clothes, partially undressed, or, in Yoder's case, fully nude.

In a statement to Politico, Yoder admitted what happened and apologized for his actions.

"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," Yoder said. "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."

Politico reports the FBI looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but their investigation did not result in any formal allegations of wrongdoing. Travis Smith, Yoder's chief of staff, says Yoder has not been interviewed by the FBI. The FBI declined to comment on its probe, saying its standard policy was not to comment on such matters.

Yoder has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since January of 2011. He represents Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, which includes Johnson County, Wyandotte County and part of Douglas County. He currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee, the committee responsible for allocating federal spending. He also serves on the Financial Services, Commerce, Justice and Science and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittees.

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