This week voters were surprised to learn about Congressmen, their family members, and GOP staff drinking and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee during a fact-finding mission to Israel.  So far, only Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas has admitted to nude swimming, but we know others in the group of twenty at least partially disrobed.

The FBI investigated whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but no one’s been charged with anything.  So far, no videos or photos of the incident have been posted, but it certainly seems possible that someone in the group recorded the antics.

We don’t yet know what Rep. Yoder’s constituents in Kansas think of his behavior, but I can’t imagine they have a positive view of Congressional skinny dipping.  Although nothing illegal occurred, voters have to be wondering about Yoder’s judgment.  Maybe he’s a brilliant lawmaker, but he’s also quite a risk taker.  Is that the kind of person they want to represent their views in Congress?

Yoder’s behavior brings to mind another famous incident of exhibitionism—the shirtless photos of the Craigslist Congressman.  In 2010, Rep. Chris Lee—perhaps anticipating what Rep. Anthony Weiner would do a year later—sent a partially undressed picture of himself to a potential sexual partner.  The scandal that followed ended Rep. Lee’s political career.

But in addition to losing his job and earning the title Craigslist Congressman, Rep. Lee was a sponsor of the Student Internet Safety Act, which was designed to “educate students about appropriate online behavior.”  I guess the Congressman didn’t think the act applied to his own behavior.

If Rep. Yoder wants to skinny dip, that’s his business—although it seems odd to do it while on a Congressional fact finding mission.  But one thing for sure about Rep. Yoder’s behavior—it took a lot of chutzpah.

Photo Source:

Robert Smither, PhD
Author of ten books on psychology, politics, and finance, Bob’s areas of expertise include leadership, organizational politics, and the psychology of political sex scandals.


  1. dina says:

    why is the FBI investigating this kind of incident? did they do something illegal to start it, or is it just because there are prominent political figures involved?

    • Robert Smither, PhD says:

      Very good point. Maybe because of the bad behavior of the agents assigned to protect the president earlier in the year, but since so many Republican Congressmen were involved, voters might wonder if there were a political motivation behind the investigation.

  2. gavin says:

    According to a news report “the FBI looked at the incident in Israel, saying the late-night swimming was probed to determine if U.S. officials were putting themselves at risk, or if any information the lawmakers possessed could have been exposed by a night of drinking and partying”. Neither was found to be true. I think this incident is a perfect example of the tendency in politics to take someones actions out of context and use it to frame their character. This almost has a dehumanizing quality because it doesn’t allow for elected officials to be human beings and act according to the standards we allow for ourselves and others in society. You don’t see us judging Chris Brown or Robert Downey Jr. the same way.

    • Robert Smither, PhD says:

      You make a good point. After all, does a report of nude swimming really merit an FBI investigation? Politicians are human beings and it’s unrealistic for voters to expect “perfect” behavior. But part of the problem is that politicians encourage that kind of expectation with their ads full of references to wholesome family life, church membership, American flags, etc. I think American voters may react more negatively to hypocrisy than questionable behavior.

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