Republicans are very serious about Israel and holy sites. Except when they’re drunk. We know how Republicans act when people are actually watching and listening *cough*Todd Akin*cough* but have you ever wondered how they conduct themselves when no one is watching? Wonder no more:
During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the [Sea of Galilee, a Christian holy site], joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel, the sources told POLITICO. Other participants, including the daughter of another congressman, swam fully clothed, while some lawmakers partially disrobed. More than 20 people took part in the late-night dip in the sea, according to sources who were participants in the trip.
[...] These GOP sources confirmed the following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the lake said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.
Who didn’t stick around after dinner to drunk skinny dip in the Sea of Galilee?
But Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was the senior most GOP lawmaker in Israel on the trip, was so upset about the antics that he rebuked the 30 lawmakers the morning after the Aug. 18, 2011, incident, saying they were distracting from the mission of the trip.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was also on the privately funded excursion, which means two of the three top House Republicans were a part of this trip. Neither Cantor nor McCarthy went swimming that night, the sources said. Some of their staff did.
What happened? A dressing down, that’s what!
A Cantor spokesman confirmed that the majority leader dressed down his Republican colleagues and that a staffer was later interviewed by FBI agents. “Twelve months ago, [Cantor] dealt with this immediately and effectively to ensure such activities would not take place in the future,” said Doug Heye, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff.
[...] On the night in question, the GOP group checked into Scots Hotel, where rooms could run up to $1,000 each night. At 8:45 p.m., they headed to Decks, a popular restaurant located on the sea, according to an itinerary filed with the House Ethics Committee.
As dinner was winding down, Cantor and McCarthy left the restaurant, but the most of the other lawmakers and staff stayed behind, and the drinking continued, according to several sources who attended the dinner.
After what they describe as a “long, hot day,” more than 20 lawmakers and senior aides decided to jump into the sea, sources said. Some went in wearing all their clothes, although others partially undressed.
Yoder removed all his clothes, the only person to do so, according to multiple sources.
Senior aides also jumped into the Sea of Galilee. They included Steve Stombres, Cantor’s chief of staff; Tim Berry, McCarthy’s chief of staff; Laena Fallon, Cantor’s former communications director and Emily Murray, McCarthy’s top health care aide. Kristi Way, a top Cantor staffer, was also on the trip.
Who paid for these shenanigans?
The American Israel Educational Foundation, a group related to AIPAC, the prominent pro-Israel advocacy group, sponsored the trip, which ran from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, 2011. 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 this AIEF trip.
It was hot and I was drunk.. oh! and religiously significant — I felt closer to Jesus! What else is there to say? It’s very likely that any excursion by a group of Republicans where they have the opportunity to be themselves and let their hair down, so to speak, frequently winds up looking like the morning after a frat party in Vegas.
Next month’s convention is the next scheduled party. Hope they all decide to pack swimsuits.