A New York congressman that was part of a group that went for a dip last year in the Sea of Galilee said he was “appropriately clothed” and there was “no impropriety.”
Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, Steuben County, was one of 30 sitting congressional representatives mentioned in a Politico story detailing a privately funded trip to Israel in 2011. During the trip, some members of the group went for a swim in the Sea of Galilee, with one — Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder — fully disrobing for the nighttime dip.
According to Politico, the swim caught the attention of the feds and led to the FBI questioning some about it. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also wasn’t pleased and rebuked the representatives the next day.
In a statement, Reed said his part in the swim was completely innocent.
“My wife Jean and I were there and swam together with a large group– appropriately clothed,” Reed said. “There was no impropriety and I am unaware of any investigation.”
That didn’t stop his Democratic opponent from firing back after the story broke. Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa said it was “disappointing to see our district in the national spotlight for a scandal at a time when the focus must be on job creation and economic growth.”
The newly formed 23rd Congressional District covers much of the Southern Tier and central New York, from Tioga County west.
“These lawmakers had the privilege of a free trip to Israel to learn about its rich history, religious traditions, and present challenges, but their behavior was irresponsible and disrespectful to those who consider the Sea of Galilee a holy place,” Shinagawa said in a statement. “We must to be able to trust our elected officials to behave appropriately while representing our district in Washington and our country while overseas.”