For more than a year, first-term Congressional Representative Kevin Yoder (Republican from Kansas) managed to conceal the fact that he went skinny-dipping in front of twenty other members of Congress, their staff and families, during a trip to Israel.
The incident was exposed, as was the Congressman, by an FBI investigation about the all-expense paid trip, an official one-week tour sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation costing approximately $10,000 per person. I caught up with Congressman as he was on an official tour of Disneyland, paid by the American Disney Educational Foundation.
Barb Weir: Congressman Yoder, what was the official purpose of your trip?
Kevin Yoder: It’s education, of course, and believe me, I got educated! I was very impressed with the luxury lavished on us and our staff and families. The briefings also made it very clear how I am supposed to vote on issues affecting Israel in Congress, and how such votes are in perfect harmony with my constituents’ interests. We’re so lucky to have friends like Israel that are willing to accept billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that support weapons manufacturers in the U.S. and Israel, many of whom donate the funds for us to go on these luxurious trips.
BW: So what made you decide to strip naked and go for a midnight swim in Lake Tiberias (AKA the Sea of Galilee)?
KY: It’s about love, Barb. I’m in love with Israel, and I wanted nothing between me and my love for Israel.
BW: Then why did you hide it from the public for so long? This trip was in August, 2011.
KY: I’ve already said that I’m ashamed and embarrassed. It’s because I was unable to close the deal and show how hard my resolve is on this issue. Perhaps it was the cold water, but it’s not something I would be inclined to brag about. I apologized to my constituents, and especially the ones in Israel who helped me get elected.
BW: But what made you feel that your actions were in any way appropriate?
KY: You have to understand that all of us were staying at the Scots Hotel, the most expensive resort in Israel, which is run by the Church of Scotland. The Church celebrates a Festival of Love, with workshops in “All Because of Love,” “A New Way to Love” and “Wine for Love”. Why would I not think it was appropriate? I thought I was contributing to the workshops.
BW: But how do your actions compare to that of other elected officials?
KY: Although most of the people in the group that evening removed some of their clothes, I was the only one to completely remove all of them. In retrospect, I suppose I should have followed the example of New York State Senator David Storobin, who had himself photographed in an Israeli military uniform and automatic rifle with senior Israeli officers on the front lines of Israeli occupied Syrian territory. Perhaps that would be a more effective way to show American voters that our first loyalty is to Israel, which is a very important issue to our constituency.
deliberation.info, August 21st, 2012.