Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yoder under fire for nude dip in holy waters

August 21, 2012


— A Kansas congressman’s 10-second naked plunge into the sea where the Bible says Jesus walked on water prompted apologies Monday from him, head-shaking from other Republicans and the kind of international attention that no politician wants.

Rep. Kevin Yoder is all but certain to keep his seat despite any embarrassment arising from last year’s incident in Israel because Democrats haven’t fielded a candidate against him. But the freshman Republican acknowledged many of his constituents are wondering what he was thinking when he took his “spontaneous” skinny dip in the Sea of Galilee in August 2011.

Other lawmakers on the trip also went into the water at what’s considered a holy site for many Christians, and Yoder said their actions earned them a rebuke from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But Politico reported Sunday that Yoder was the only one who wore no clothes.

“It’s certainly not an incident that I’m proud of,” Yoder said. “It is something that was obviously a mistake on my part, and I want folks in the district to know that I’m apologetic for it.”

The tabloid press in Britain and the U.S. pounced on the story, with the New York Daily News blaring online, “NUDES FLASH!” and describing Yoder as a “skinny-dipping pol.”

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, criticized Yoder’s behavior during an interview with a New Hampshire television station.

“I think it’s reprehensible,” Romney told WMUR-TV. “I think it’s another terrible mistake by individuals.”

Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon called Yoder’s behavior “inexcusable” and said if the incident had occurred in Kansas, he would be forced to resign. She later issued a statement calling for him to step down.

“I’m astonished these people think they can go on these junkets like this and no one will know what they do,” Wagnon said.

Kansas GOP Chairwoman Amanda Adkins, citing the 36-year-old congressman’s repeated apologies, said the incident shouldn’t overshadow his work representing a district centered on the state’s portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Another Kansas Republican, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said, he believed “something stupid occurred, and I think from time to time people do stupid things.”

Large junket

U.S. House records show that at least 22 Republican congressmen and staff members were on the eight-day trip to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charity whose mission includes educating politicians about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. The group’s schedule included meetings with the prime ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and more than two dozen other events.

The swimming occurred after an Aug. 18, 2011, dinner at a restaurant. Yoder said it was dark and members of the party jumped into the Sea of Galilee individually, not as a group. Yoder said he and his wife, Brooke, who was with him, had wine with dinner, but “alcohol did not play a role.”

“It was a spontaneous moment where other members of Congress were jumping in,” he said. “I made the mistake of diving in. I was in for about 10 seconds and got back out.”

Swimming in the lake is permitted but public nudity is not allowed, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. He said no official complaint had been made against Yoder, but it was possible he could still be charged even a year later.

“If that kind of incident takes place and someone makes an official compliant, we’ll investigate,” Rosenfeld said in Jerusalem.

Arizona Rep. Ben Quayle and his wife, Tiffany, were on the trip too. She issued a statement saying they did not participate in nor witness “any of the inappropriate behavior.” She also noted she was more than eight months pregnant at the time.

Previous incident

Yoder served in the Kansas House from 2003 through 2010 and was chairman of its Appropriations Committee.

In February 2009, he was cited by the Kansas Highway Patrol for speeding and refusing to take a breath test following an early-morning traffic stop on a state highway in the Lawrence area. He later pleaded guilty to refusing to take the test and paid a $90 fine.

The traffic stop briefly caused ruffles during his successful 2010 run for Congress, but Yoder’s campaign said he’d refused to take the breath test because he’d passed another field sobriety test and wasn’t driving under the influence.

Yoder’s sole opponent in the upcoming general election is Libertarian Joel Balam, of Overland Park.

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said Democrats’ call for Yoder to resign was “absurd.”


lunacydetector 4 years, 11 months ago

an important question:......did his wife get naked too?

okay, back to the criticism from the party of free love, bill clinton with a cigar and young woman subordinate, and, if it didn't hurt anyone who cares everyone does it, honk for hemp democrats

akuna 4 years, 11 months ago

Lunacy, I think people are rightly upset because this points to his hypocrisy. He extolls family values yet drinks and drives, gets drunk and skinny dips, and creates campaign commercials showing a faux "family." His hypocrisy knows no bounds and that is worrisome.

Bunny_Hotcakes 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow, we got "But...CLINTON!" in one. Impressive.

If Yoder weren't so confident that he needed to be legislating what happens between consenting adults (and denying women agency over their own bodies and health care decisions) this would be no big deal.

I think we should also talk about him wiggling his way out of a DUI and his children that came from central casting, too.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's not forget the web site he set up in the name of his opponent and used to undermine her. Dirty tricks at their best!

camper 4 years, 11 months ago

Playin the Clinton card again. Man, the edges on that thing must be getting frayed.

James Minor 4 years, 11 months ago

In Kansas we like to take all our clothes off before gettin in the cement pond. We also say somethin before gettin in the pool ----- "Toga!!!!!"

question4u 4 years, 11 months ago

Right. It's OK to do anything. All you have to do is point out that someone did something worse. That's not lunacy.

All you have to do is reduce everything to the same tired formula. There's nothing but the good guys and the "liberals". There's no difference between the far left, the moderate left, and the moderate right. There are no distinctions within the far right either. There's only us and the "liberals." That's not lunacy.

It's OK. This is Kansas. No sophistication of thought is required. Nailed it.

usnsnp 4 years, 11 months ago

The only problem is if this was some enlisted man in the military or some low ranking federal worker they would have been court martialed or fired. But I guess if you are a member of congress you are treated diffrent in such situations.

hyperinflate 4 years, 11 months ago

Hmmmm. Mitt Romney's campaign spokesbrain expressed his utter outrage and disbelief that reporters would defile the sanctity of a Polish site by asking the Mittster questions there. Perhaps he would like to comment on this?

hyperinflate 4 years, 11 months ago

Uh, yeah. I did read the article. This is an example of what we call "comedic juxtaposition" -- the case where a similar, but not exact set of circumstances yields an entirely different response. It's supposed to be humorous, but if you've already made it this far into my explanation then it's safe to say you have too much time on your hands.

KS 4 years, 11 months ago

Skinny dipping is fun. Been known to do it myself. Sorry I wasn't there. Sounds like a fun evening, let alone the opportunity to be in the same waters that Christ walked upon. I can offer no criticism of the event.

Jock Navels 4 years, 11 months ago

i myself am a total liberal Democrat, and I see nothing to criticize here, except maybe he could have saved a taxpayer's dime, and spent his time at Lake Henry.

Mixolydian 4 years, 11 months ago

Can you imagine if a member of the Knesset came over to Kansas and took a 10 second skinny dip at Lake Clinton at night? Man, we'd all be

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

On the other hand, Ozzy has been permanently banned from Texas for taking a drunk whiz on the wall of the Alamo.

Beau Hewins 4 years, 11 months ago

This is not news worthy. Instead of reporting the views and beliefs of the candidates, I now have to decide if I want to vote for the naked guy or the guy saying its wrong to swim naked.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Except that Yoder is running unopposed, so you don't have that choice, not really. The questions is, if this incident had become public information at the time it happened, rather than waiting more than a year, would that someone who opposed the swim have been placed on the ballot? Then we the voters would indeed have the choice you suggest. As is frequently the case, it's the coverup that is more troubling than the indiscretion itself.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

The members of Congress in question, those 20 or so who were at this late night gathering were chastised by their Congressional leaders the next morning. That would be additional members who were on this little junket but not involved in the late night revelry, or should I call it their spiritual journey. Anyway, reports are that they were told to keep their mouths shut. And it's worked for over a year. Long enough for Yoder to get on the ballot unopposed.

If a congressman's judgement is a legitimate subject for inquiry, as I certainly believe it is, then his lack of judgement in this incident becomes a legitimate issue. And if congressional leaders and our good congressman himself conspired to keep that information from the public, that's a coverup.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

This incident was VIGOROUSLY suppressed. The reason it took over a year for it to come out was because it took that long for an eager beaver columnist at the NY Times to get wind of it, investigate it and interview sources before he even said anything. If that doesn't smell like "cover up" I don't know what does.

rtwngr 4 years, 11 months ago

This is another example of the liberal press trying to make much ado about nothing when a republican is involved. Not news. Not interesting. Not worthy of the ink to print it.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm a non drinker, and also non spiritual, so I admit I'm totally unqualified to answer the question I'm about ready to ask. But how frequent is the occurrence of these moments of spirituality accompanied by being under the influence? And how are we to differentiate Yoder's experience from some 18 year old who simply got drunk and got naked?

Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 11 months ago

What's interesting to me in this article is that he refused a breathalyzer and yet only had to pay a $90 fine. Kansas law is that you automatically lose your license for a year, no matter whether you're drunk or not, if you refuse the breathalyzer. Having a license is considered "implied consent" to be tested. I've never heard of anyone else who was able to weasel out of losing their license.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! Does preferential treatment exist for our State Reps? Sure sounds like it to me.

Tracy Rogers 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, that's a bigger issue than this skinny dipping. How can he not lose his license for refusing a breathalyzer? Corrupt Corrupt government.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 11 months ago

Fl Rep. Steve Southerland and 19 yo daughter were naked

According to eye-witnesses, the crowd of about 20 took a late night dip in the Sea of Galilee, some partially naked, others all the way naked. Either way, that's a lot of white pasty bodies rummaging through the waters.

The sources say Southerland's 19 yo daughter was among those who ventured verily into the water.

Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 11 months ago

Letterman featured Yoder's exploits on his popular top 10 list, titled "Congressman Kevin Yoder Excuses."

  1. "What's the big deal, I was naked the whole trip."

  2. "It was spring break; chill out."

  3. "People in the Middle East are pretty easygoing about nudity."

  4. "In my defense, I had been drinking heavily."

  5. "Trying to take the focus off Mitt Romney's taxes."

  6. "It had been days since a congressman did something embarrassing."

  7. "It's Obama's fault."

  8. "Putting the 'junk' in 'congressional junket.'"

  9. "I can't swim naked, but Barney Frank can walk around like this?" (Picture Frank in a blue sweater and jacket.)

  10. "That's how we party in Kansas."

Richard Benson 4 years, 11 months ago

But c'mon! Ben Quayle triple dog dared him!

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Third different installment of the same story in less than 16 hours? Coooome on, LJW.........

Mixolydian 4 years, 11 months ago

Us independents would also say no big deal.

snitty 4 years, 11 months ago

The scandal is that regular AIPAC funded "fact-finding" junkets for US politicians to Israel take place at all. Was Yoder looking for facts in the Sea of Galilee? Rep. Cantor was livid about the swimming because it distracted from the important mission of the trip, which was meeting the Israeli political leadership and promoting the "special relationship" Washington has with them. These junkets are one reason for the numerous Congressional resolutions and the endless flow of US money and weaponry in support of the Israeli regime.

gorilla 4 years, 11 months ago

The brouhaha over this is silly. President Taft and some of his cabinet skinny-dipped in the Potomac when he was President. Lots of people have skinny-dipped and lots of people have a secret fascination for skinny-dipping even if they don't take the plunge.

Criticize him on real issues if you disagree with his politics, but leave him alone on this non-issue. And I am a Democrat.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Did Taft violate the laws of a foreign land to skinny dip? Did he get AIPAC money to go visit said foreign country and possibly create an international scandal after a couple glasses of wine and a skinny dip? Just curious.

Catalano 4 years, 11 months ago

If this happened a year ago, why is it only coming to light now? Did somebody squeal?

voevoda 4 years, 11 months ago

Yoder violated Israeli law when he went skinny-dipping, and did so while he was visiting the country as an official representative of the United States. That alone makes his conduct inappropriate and embarrassing to all of us.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's see. Ozzy Osbourne takes a drunk whiz on the Alamo and it creates an international incident. He gets permanently banned from Texas and almost gets his butt deported back to England.
A Republican member of the US Congress does something that, although not exactly the same, is comparable and it's just "hi jinks".
Got it!

oldbaldguy 4 years, 11 months ago

Yoder should have not have gone on this junket. None of the reps should have gone. Its part of the bigger problem of sending these people to Washington and they buy in to imperial entitlement. Alcohol is an issue if you are taking off your clothes in public in a foreign land. It does not matter whether he is republican or democrat, it stinks, its called corruption..

akt2 4 years, 11 months ago

Scandal of the second. Not a very juicy one at that.

HutchSaltHawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Just another nice little Mennonite boy from Hutchinson....and that explains a lot!

love2bike 4 years, 11 months ago

He must have practiced at the Chi Omega fountain when he was the student body president at KU!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

The August 2011 trip was sponsored and paid for by the American Israel Educational Foundation, which is affiliated with AIPAC, an influential pro-Israel advocacy group.

Representatives Steve Southerland, Tom Reed, Ben Quayle, Jeff Denham and Michael Grimm were among the more than 20 lawmakers and staff that jumped into the Sea of Galilee, Politico said.

Senior aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also went swimming in the freshwater lake, which is where Christians believe that Jesus walked on water.

Politico revealed that the FBI investigated drinking and nudity on the GOP's trip to Israel.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Two Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation expressed disappointment Monday in Yoder's indiscreet behavior during the August 2011 tour sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told The Associated Press such conduct detracted from the important issues confronting the nation. Rep. Mike Pompeo, the 4th District congressman serving the Wichita area, said running around nude on a beach during a work-related trip violated the trust placed in politicians by the voters.

In a New Hampshire television interview, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan criticized Yoder, with Romney indicating the congressman's actions were reprehensible.

love2bike 4 years, 11 months ago

First thing Romney and I have agreed on......

Tom McCune 4 years, 11 months ago

  1. Well, it's the best headline we've had in a while.
  2. His presence on the junket is a bigger issue than the skinny dipping. Tell me again, how is this junket official government business?

laughingatallofu 4 years, 11 months ago

I wonder whether or not he went number 1 in the water.

James Minor 4 years, 11 months ago

That's cause Jesus could walk on water and he knew that 2000 years later there would be some knucklehead that would try to do the nudeedip in the Sea.

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