Suspicious letters such as those targeting Senators’ state offices have begun to land on Capitol Hill.
“Arrival of the letters in DC today is further evidence of the bothersome commitment of the individual or group behind these mailings,” Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer wrote to the Senate community in a letter obtained by Roll Call. “All staff, here in DC and in the state offices, should remain vigilant and follow our established mail-handling protocols.”
Gainer noted that letters addressed to Senators’ Washington, D.C., offices were “intercepted at the Senate’s off-site mailing screening facility [and that] all tests thus far have indicated the letters contained no hazardous materials.”
“There will be no interruption of today’s mail delivery. All mail and packages delivered by the Senate Post Office continue to be thoroughly tested and safe,” Gainer continued.
News broke last week that envelopes and packages postmarked from the Pacific Northwest were beginning to arrive at Senators’ local offices and one House district office — that of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
By the end of last week, mailings containing “powdery substances” arrived in the state offices of Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
Lieberman’s press secretary, Whitney Phillips, told Roll Call today that the suspicious powder that arrived in the Hartford office tested negative for “biological pathogens” and that it appeared to be “consistent with what was found in the other letters — common household products like corn starch.”
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider confirmed Monday that Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) had also received threatening letters at their local offices.
Capitol Police and local law enforcement agencies are partnering with the FBI to monitor the situation and track down the individual or individuals behind it.
FBI spokesman Christopher Allen stressed in a statement that none of the letters so far have contained hazardous materials and that, despite similar return addresses, officials had yet to determine whether the mailings are related.
“Even sending a hoax letter is a serious crime that will be thoroughly investigated,” Allen added.
Neither Allen nor the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office would confirm which Senators’ Capitol Hill offices have been targeted so far.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.