August 21, 2012 10:17:42 AM
A freshman congressman from Kansas has apologized for going skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee during a fact-finding trip to Israel last summer.
Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., said he was "incredibly remorseful that I have caused embarrassment to my constituents" for a "momentary lapse of judgment" that resulted in his jumping into the water without his clothes on during the August 2011 trip to Israel.
Yoder, elected from the Kansas City area in 2010, issued the statement late Sunday after Politico reported that he stripped during a late-night swim with other lawmakers, congressional spouses and staffers.
The Sea of Galilee is a lake in northern Israel. Scripture says Jesus walked on water there.
After the skinny-dipping incident, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., warned lawmakers that their behavior could distract from the mission of the trip.
GOP aides denied Politico's report that the FBI looked into the incident. In an e-mail, FBI spokesman Bill Carter would not confirm that report. "Nor do we confirm that interviews may have taken place with regards to that trip," he wrote.
But a law enforcement source said that the FBI may have conducted interviews that pertain to campaign finance allegations against Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., who was part of the trip to Israel and then traveled to Cyprus.
Grimm has not been notified of any investigation regarding his travels to Israel or Cyprus, according to spokeswoman Carol Danko.
Other lawmakers involved in the late-night swim included Reps. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Benjamin Quayle, R-Ariz., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif.
In an e-mail, Reed spokesman Tim Kolpien said the lawmaker and his wife swam with the group - but "appropriately clothed." The e-mail added: "There was no impropriety and he is unaware of any investigation." Spokesmen for the other lawmakers did not return requests for comment.
The trip, paid for by the American Israel Educational Foundation, included lectures, tours of religious sites, and meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials.
Staff writer Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.