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Former GOP Rep. “Upset” Over Congressmen’s Actions In Israel

Reaction to Kevin Yoder Nude Swim

WASHINGTON, DC (WENY) -- A former Republican congressman says some members of Congress have “embarrassed the institution.”  He also says they owe an apology to Israel, the Republican Party, and the House of Representatives. 

This comes after Politico published an article Sunday saying the FBI was investigating a congressional trip to Israel last year in which several Republican congressman took a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee. Politico reports Southern Tier Rep. Tom Reed and his wife participated in the swim.  Politico also reports that drinking was involved. 

Former Congressman Phil English, who represented Northwest Pennsylvania for 14 years in the House Representatives, participated in a similar trip to Israel back in 2001.  English thinks the behavior of the congressmen involved in this incident takes away from the important mission of such trips.

“I am very upset with the way they handled this,” said English.

English says the only of congressman from the trip he knows is Tom Reed, whom he calls a “quality guy.” 

“There are a couple of people on that delegation who I think are first-rate people, like Tom Reed,” explained English.  “On the other hand, the gentleman from Kansas, Mr. Yoder, I think really owes his constituency and the House a full explanation.”

Yoder admits he jumped naked into the Sea of Galilee.  He told Politico, “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.”

“Any member of Congress who travels overseas has a fundamental obligation to represent the country by their behavior, by what they do when they’re there.  I think it’s outrageous for someone in the Congress – anyone – to be involved in something like skinny dipping or fraternity tactics,” responded English.

Several viewers on WENY-TV’s Facebook page have asked why the FBI should even get involved in a situation like this.  English’s responded, “I think that if elected officials are involved in irresponsible behavior overseas, that is a serious thing that the American government has a right to know and ought to know.”

According to Politico, the FBI’s investigation has not led to any formal allegations of wrongdoing.  Congressman Yoder and Reed both say they have not been interviewed by the FBI.