Around 100 letters containing a suspicious white powder were sent to Republican members of the Kansas Legislature and the state’s Republican attorney general over the weekend, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) announced.
The KBI announced on Friday that 30 letters containing a suspicious powder were reported across the state, but that number skyrocketed to 100 by Sunday.
Recipients of the letters containing the powder include Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R), Kansas House Speaker Carrie Rahfaldt (R), and various Republican lawmakers.
Preliminary tests from a lab specializing in biological samples indicate “the substance is presumptively negative for common biological agents of concern,” the KBI said in a statement.
“Further and more complete testing will be conducted on this sample, as well as on additional letters that have been collected, in an effort to determine the components of the substance,” the agency added.
The white powder purports to be a “gift” to “honor your recent accomplishments,” signed by “your secret despirer,” according to a letter that accompanied the white powder.
“It is important not to choke on your ambition,” the sender added.
The investigation into the nearly 100 letters containing a suspicious white powder comes during political battles between the state’s Republican-led legislature and Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly.
As CNN detailed:
The state legislature has voted to override nine of Kelly’s vetoes this year, according to Owens, including one on a bill banning transgender female athletes from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender from kindergarten through college, and another bill dubbed the “Women’s Bill of Rights” that defines an individual’s sex only as the one assigned at birth.
Kansas Sen. Molly Baumgardner (R), who received one of the letters, believes Kansas Republicans are being “targeted.”
“We’re using our finest resources, and it’s being squandered because someone — or a group of people — are very deliberately trying to make a point,” Baumgardner told KMBC on Friday. “Kansas Legislators that are Republican are being targeted. There appears to be some message.”
“Everybody has to be concerned. Everyone has to take this and any subsequent threats like this very seriously,” she added.
Kansas Rep. Stephen Owns (R) said the sender used the return address of a local church to trick recipients into opening the letter.
“It was very deliberate, very intentional to get us to open the letters,” Owens said.
“There’s a question whether maybe it’s related to some of those vetoes that we overrode. It’s really terrifying to think that because of someone’s political beliefs that they can be a target,” he added.
However, Owens maintained that the letters would not persuade him and his colleagues from pursuing their legislative goals.
“Violence and acts of violence and threats do absolutely nothing, nothing to change one’s perspective. As a matter of fact, that strengthens the resolve of myself and my colleagues and of our party to continue the work that we’re doing,” Owens added.
The KBI reported no injuries from the letters but asked everyone “to remain vigilant in handling mail.”