FBI Investigates Letters With White Powder Sent to Republicans

Getty Images
June 23, 2023

Tennessee Republican state lawmakers received threatening letters with "a white powder substance" Thursday afternoon, prompting a lockdown of a legislative office building’s sixth floor, an FBI investigation, and an inspection by a hazmat team, according to a statement from State House speaker Cameron Sexton (R.).

"Laboratory testing is ongoing but at this time has not indicated a risk to public safety," the FBI said in a statement. "Law enforcement and public safety officials are working to determine how many letters were sent, the individual or individuals responsible for the letters, and the motive behind the letters."

A GOP press secretary said the letters, with threats targeting Republican legislators, were written by a "liberal activist." Authorities said no injuries had been reported.

Less than a week prior, lawmakers in Kansas received more than 100 suspicious letters with white powder. One letter read "Don’t choke on your ambition," according to a local Fox affiliate. One of the recipients, Kansas state representative Tory Marie Blew (R.), said earlier this week she worried the letters were targeting lawmakers who supported a bill banning biological males from participating in women’s sports and another assigning bathrooms and locker rooms by biological sex.

"Both of those, we overrode the governor’s veto on, and we’ve been told that was an attack on transgender individuals," Blew said. "And so I think that is where it’s coming from, but I don’t know."

Tennessee governor Bill Lee (R.) signed a bill in April banning biological males from women’s school sports.