Iowans who like writing letters to their elected representatives in Washington D.C. may want to consider electronic options for now. Due to the ricin-poisoned letters that were sent to members of Congress and to President Obama this week, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the snail mail has crawled to a halt.
“We’ve had a stop on our mail coming in to our Senate office, both here and in Iowa,” Harkin says. “We’re following the guidance of capitol police and the sergeant at arms. We’re halting the opening of any mail until further instructions are provided.” Harkin, a Democrat, says there are alternative forms of communication that’ll be much faster.
Harkin says, “I tell Iowans who need assistance to either phone call us or use our web form found on our website because letter mail is really being halted right now.” The Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, which houses offices for both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, was among those that was partly evacuated on Wednesday after a threat.
“We had a system where we didn’t have to evacuate, it was stay-in-place,” Harkin says. “We couldn’t leave our offices. I was chairing a hearing at the time in the Dirksen Building so it didn’t affect us and by the time the hearing was over, they’d cleared it up.” While nothing is foolproof, Harkin says he’s satisfied the current system is “working pretty good.”
Federal authorities arrested a suspect in Mississippi on Wednesday who allegedly sent this week’s tainted letters to the president and a senator.