A report highlighting a late-night dip in the Sea of Galilee by a group of Republican congressmen during a sponsored educational trip to Israel last summer might have been buried in the news by Rep. Todd Akin’s outrageousness, but it could turn into the next GOP scandal.
“It certainly might imperil some of the members involved, but it also could be a broader scandal that hurts the Republican Party,” said Mark Halperin of Time magazine and an msnbc senior political analyst during a Monday appearance on Hardball. “We just have to wait and see more of the facts.”
A handful of Republican freshman, aides, and family members jumped into the Galilee after dinner one night during a pricey trip paid for by the American Israel Educational Foundation, a pro-Israel group, Politico reported. One of them went nude. There was some drinking, others were just hot, and the FBI looked into the matter, the Politico reporters found. Also, Majority Leader Eric Cantor who joined the trip but not the swim was reportedly P.O.
It all happened last August, less than a week after the United States lost its AAA credit rating due to political gridlock in Washington that caused many around the world to lose confidence in Congress’ ability to work together to deal with the country’s debt and economy as a whole.
New York Magazine’s John Heilemann, also an msnbc political analyst, pointed out that some religious groups—Christian and Jewish alike—might be offended by the lawmakers’ actions at a holy site where Jesus is believed to have walked on water, but more so it painted them as hypocrites.
“At a broader level, you’ve got a bunch of freshman congressman who came in the Republican Party in 2010 who had this stance that they were not part of typical Washington—they were going to change the Capitol in some fundamental way,” he said. “This kind of thing, drunken junkets overseas, fooling around, it kind of cuts against that image of seriousness.”
While some of the congressman defended their actions to Politico as partaking in a religious exercise, the rebuke from Cantor seemed to suggest something was amiss.
“The question begged is, ‘Why was Eric Cantor upset?’” Halperin added.