[UPDATE BELOW] A health care reform opponent sent a letter containing a suspicious white powder to outspoken health care reform supporter Rep. Anthony Weiner's Kew Gardens district office, according to police scanner reports. Wire dispatches indicate that nine people are being decontaminated after potential exposure to the substance, which was sent in a letter "making reference to President Obama's healthcare reform bill."
Authorities were dispatched to the Kew Gardens Road office at some time before 1:50 p.m., and officials are attempting to identify the substance. The phones rang busy at the Congressman's Kew Gardens office and his Sheepshead Bay office (an employee at the Congressman's Rockaway office declined to comment on the incident, but took a message). Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, has made a name for himself as an adamant backer of health care reform. Last night, he squabbled with Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly over the bill.
Since the health care reform vote passed the House on Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Politico that some Democratic lawmakers have faced threats of violence. Talking Points Memo has posted a handy map highlighting reports of "vandalism and threats against Democrats."
Update (4:15 p.m.): In a statement issued to the media, Weiner confirmed that his staff had been sent a suspicious substance, and noted that his Kew Gardens office will remain closed until law enforcement officials finish their investigation:
Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens. The NYPD was immediately alerted and have responded appropriately by sending a Haz-Mat team. Any questions related to their response should be directed to the NYPD. My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation.