Letter laced with chemical sent to advocacy group - Albuquerque Journal

Letter laced with chemical sent to advocacy group

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Law enforcement authorities are investigating an anonymous letter containing a chemical substance and antisemitic symbols sent to the office of the environmental advocacy group Conservation Voters New Mexico.

The FBI oversaw testing of the substance that indicates “the sample contained ingredients of a potent toxin uses in terrorist attacks,” according to a statement released by Conservation Voters, but it was in an inert form.

An FBI spokesman said the substance wasn’t harmful.

Demis Foster, the group’s executive director, said she is relieved no one was hurt.

But “whoever carried out this vicious act was clearly intending harm,” she said in a written statement.

The letter, according to Conservation Voters, included threatening language targeting state Rep. Nathan Small, a Las Cruces Democrat who co-sponsored a law that commits New Mexico utilities to a carbon-free energy system by 2045.

Also targeted in the letter were the Democratic Party of New Mexico and Conservation Voters New Mexico.

Foster thanked Santa Fe police and firefighters, the FBI and the state Department of Health for the quick response and investigation into the letter.

The group’s office in Downtown Santa Fe was evacuated and quarantined after the letter arrived Wednesday, Foster said. The group’s office is closed for now.

In an interview, Foster said the letter was in an envelope delivered by the Postal Service. The envelope contained a ripped-up mailer that Conservation Voters had sent promoting Small’s strengths as a legislative candidate.

The envelope also contained a photo of Small marked with antisemitic symbols, Foster said.

Inside the envelope was a brown, grainy substance, she said.

“It looked a bit like tobacco with some powder,” Foster said.

The sample was sent to the State Scientific Laboratory, according to the Department of Health. The agency also has helped monitor individuals affected by the incident.

But FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the substance was “tested and determined not harmful.”

Anyone with information can call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Fisher said, “we are not releasing specific details.”

Conservation Voters New Mexico has advocated at the Roundhouse for environmental legislation, including the Energy Transition Act, one of the most hotly contested bills in recent years. It authorized the use of bonds for the Public Service Company of New Mexico to pay for costs associated with the closure of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

The group also supported 2019 legislation banning coyote-killing contests on public land in New Mexico and annually releases grades of lawmakers on environmental issues.

Foster said the group won’t let fear interrupt its work.

“There is no place in a functioning democracy for anyone to resort to the use of terror because they disapprove of a candidate for public office,” Foster said. “It’s shocking and terrifying that we have to experience such a malice-filled attack on our democracy.”

Conservation Voters New Mexico also has a political arm – Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund – that provides financial support to candidates.

During a recent campaign period, the political committee reported donations to Small’s reelection campaign, along with the campaigns of State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard and Democratic legislative candidate Tara Jaramillo of Socorro.

Small is running for reelection in House District 36 in Doña Ana County.

“This political extremism must stop now,” Small said. “Antisemitism, threats and intimidation have no place in our democracy.”

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