Suspicious mail prompts Kansas to evacuate secretary of state’s building

Nov 14, 2023, 2:39 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The office of Kansas’ top elections official received suspicious mail Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of its building near the Statehouse for the rest of the day.

The incident occurred less than a week after election offices in at least five states states received threatening mail, some containing the potentially dangerous opioid fentanyl. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, taking the lead in the case, did not provide further details about the mail sent to the Kansas secretary of state’s office.

The KBI is working with the Kansas Highway Patrol, the state fire marshal’s office and the state Department of Health and Environment, spokesperson Melissa Underwood said in an emailed statement. She said authorities evacuated the building, which also houses the Kansas attorney general’s office, “out of an abundance of caution.”

“The investigation is ongoing,” Underwood said, adding that it was the only such incident reported in Kansas so far.

An officer inside the building Tuesday afternoon said it still was being secured. Two people who worked there went to the main entrance to have officers retrieve items left behind in the evacuation. They declined to comment afterward.

Local television station WIBW reported that its crews saw Topeka Fire Department hazardous materials teams entering the building shortly after it was evacuated. They were gone by the afternoon.

In June, dozens of Republican officials in Kansas, Montana and Tennessee received threatening letters containing white powder, though tests did not detect toxins and no injuries were reported. Authorities have yet to announce arrests.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab is a Republican who has pushed back against baseless theories about the 2020 election being stolen. In other states last week, the political leanings of whoever sent the threatening mail were unclear.

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Suspicious mail prompts Kansas to evacuate secretary of state’s building