Yoder apologizes for skinny dipping in Sea of Galilee - KCTV5 News

Yoder apologizes for skinny dipping in Sea of Galilee

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A group of House Republicans, including Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, were scolded last year for their behavior during a fact-finding trip to Israel, including skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, a spokesman for GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor said late Sunday after reports of the incidents were published online.

"Twelve months ago, (Cantor) dealt with this immediately and effectively to ensure such activities would not take place in the future," Cantor spokesman Doug Heye wrote in a statement.

Yoder apologized Monday for skinny dipping. He appeared on KCUR's Up to Date Monday, a day after the story broke.

He spoke to KCTV5 following that radio appearance.

He said he had drank wine with dinner, but denies that he was drunk. His wife, Brooke, joined him on the trip, but did not go into the sea. Yoder maintains it was a brief dip, which he did so he could have the experience.

He said it was "an unfortunate" lapse in judgment that he regrets.

"Alcohol did not play a role in the decision to jump into the water," he told KCTV5. "It was a spontaneous moment where other members of Congress were jumping in and I made the mistake to dive in for 10 seconds. And it's a mistake I regret."

He had first apologized Sunday night after a Washington-based website broke the story.

"I feel incredibly remorseful that I have caused embarrassment to my constituents, and I have caused folks who believe in me to be disappointed," Yoder told the Kansas City Star, KCTV5's reporting partner.

On Sunday, Politico reported 30 GOP lawmakers went on the trip to Israel in August 2011, some with their families. At least one traveled to Israel with his wife who was more than eight months pregnant.

According to the report, many of the lawmakers, their aides and family members took a late night swim in the Sea of Galilee in various states of undress.

The report said Yoder went swimming completely nude. He apologized in a statement to Politico, writing, "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," Yoder continued in the statement.

He later amended his initial statement to offer a more complete apology with no qualifiers.

The wife of a second congressman, Rep. Ben Quayle of Arizona, wrote in a statement to CNN that neither she nor her husband had any knowledge of the skinny dipping incident.

"Ben and I and our daughter Evie were there together that evening in the Holy Land, although I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her," Tiffany Quayle wrote. "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 lawmakers named in the Politico report included Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida, Rep. Tom Reed of New York, Rep. Jeff Denham of California and Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.

The Sea of Galilee is an important religious site for Christians, and it is where the Bible says Jesus walked on water and fed 5,000 people.

No Democrat is opposing Yoder, but he is facing third party opposition.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, said this transgression should not take away from Yoder's overall reputation.

"He's a good man who made a mistake," Cleaver said. "He's a very good man and what happened in Israel does not reflect who he is."

Yoder declined to discuss the furor involving U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri. Yoder said he was only going to discuss his controversy and not Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks.

The Johnson County Democratic Party issued a statement expressing their disappointment.

"We are saddened that this U.S. Congressional delegation would disrespect an idea that is holy to Christianity. We know that Kansans are disappointed that anyone representing our state would exhibit this kidn of behavior," the statement said.

CNN's Kate Bolduan and Greg Morrison contributed to this report.

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