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Kansas elections agency evacuated after receiving suspicious letter

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The substance in a suspicious letter sent to the top elections agency in Kansas doesn’t appear to have been hazardous, and the mail appeared unrelated to threatening letters sent to election offices in other states, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday.

The letter delivered Tuesday to the Kansas secretary of state’s office prompted authorities to evacuate its building just before noon and keep it closed for the rest of the day. The KBI said it has identified a suspect in Tuesday’s incident, though no arrest was announced.

The KBI also said it has no reason to believe the letter was connected to threatening letters containing a harmless white powder sent in June to dozens of Republican legislators in Kansas, Montana and Tennessee.

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Kansas Capitol Police car

A Kansas Capitol Police car sits outside the building that houses the offices of the Kansas secretary of state after its evacuation Nov. 14, 2023, in Topeka, Kan. The building was evacuated after the secretary of state’s office received suspicious mail. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

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While authorities are still waiting on final tests of the substance in Tuesday’s letter, preliminary testing indicated it was not harmful, KBI spokesperson Melissa Underwood said in an emailed statement. The secretary of state’s building reopened Wednesday morning.

“Law enforcement has identified the person they believe sent the suspicious letter,” Underwood said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Tuesday’s incident in Kansas occurred less than a week after election offices in at least five states received threatening mail, some containing the potentially dangerous opioid fentanyl. The motivation of anyone responsible for suspicious mail in the other states was unclear.

The KBI did not disclose a potential motive for the latest Kansas letter, and no arrests have been announced over the letters sent in June. Secretary of State Scott Schwab is a Republican who has pushed back against baseless theories about the 2020 election being stolen.

The secretary of state’s building is near the Kansas Statehouse and also houses the offices of the state’s attorney general.

“Threats such as this and all forms of political intimidation are unacceptable and must always be strongly condemned,” Kansas House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, tweeted Wednesday morning.

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