Baldacci receives suspect powder

Posted Dec. 10, 2008, at 9:45 p.m.

By Glenn Adams

AUGUSTA, Maine — White powder sent in suspicious letters to governors of Maine and 11 other states appears to be harmless, the FBI said Wednesday.

Gov. John Baldacci’s staff intercepted a letter on Tuesday. It had a Texas postmark like similar mailings to other governors this week, officials said. The FBI has contacted the offices of Baldacci and the other governors asking them to be on the lookout for additional letters.

“The white powder substance has been field screened and the tests have met with negative results,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko told The Associated Press. “The white powder substance has been forwarded to local laboratories for further testing.”

The envelope in Maine was intercepted by the state police executive protection unit, which provides security for the governor, before it arrived at Baldacci’s office inside the State House, said David Farmer, spokesman for the governor’s office.

“We look at this as an unfortunate prank,” Farmer said.

The envelope was not opened and nobody was exposed to the powder. State police spokesman Stephen McCausland declined to say whether the envelope held anything other than the powder.

Envelopes with white powder in them were received this week in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Texas.

Officials in some of the states have said the substance was flour or a harmless food substance. In Maine, testing indicated it was consistent with flour, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kolko said sending a hoax letter “is serious and can have severe consequences. This is a great drain on each city’s response teams.” He asked that anyone with information contact the FBI or local police.

The letters brought back memories of the bioterrorism scare of 2001 when anthrax-laced letters showed up at businesses and at congressional offices in Washington, D.C. Baldacci was a U.S. representative at the time, and his Capitol Hill office was among those where anthrax spores were found.

Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.

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