Senator Susan Collins returned to her private residence the night of Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to see that her home had become the scene of an investigation.
A spokesperson for the Republican Maine senator said that Tom Draffon, the senator’s husband, had received a threatening letter. The writer claimed the letter was contaminated with ricin, which is a hazardous substance. At the time, Collins was in Washington D.C., but her husband, the dog, and parts of her home had to be quarantined while a crime lab unit investigated the situation.
The affected areas were cleared, and the couple was able to spend the Monday night in their home, according to Communications Director Annie Clark.
The Bangor Police Department responded to a call at 2 p.m. Monday for a suspicious envelope delivered to the West Broadway home. The Bangor Police Department Crime Lab, firefighters, and a Hazmat team responded.
As officials responded, nearby Hayward Street was closed for safety precautions. Bangor Police Sargent Wade Betters said, “Safety first in our minds, we want to have that in our minds at all times and so we utilize local resources to help.”
The U.S. Capitol Police were leading the investigation, according to Betters. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the preliminary testing of the suspicious substance has been completed.
Collins and Draffon released a statement thanking local and federal law enforcement. “We are very grateful for the immediate and professional assistance that we received from the Bangor Police Department, the Maine Crime Lab, the Maine State Police Department, the Capitol Police, the FBI, the Orono Hazmat Unit, the Bangor Fire Department, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Inspection Service. We are also truly appreciative of the many well wishes we received today. Our friends and neighbors have been incredibly kind and have even offered to open their homes to us. We feel blessed to live in such a supportive community.”
Monday’s incident is the most recent in a series of threats against Collins, her family, and her staff.
The senator has drawn some bad press due to her vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Scott Thomas from Bangor said, “I’m very pleased that Susan Collins voted the way she did. If people are going to be threatening our elected officials, that immediately put us into the third world.”
The Bangor Daily News reported that Collins has had protestors outside her home since she voted in favor of Kavanaugh but has been able to live a normal life without increased security.
The investigation into the letter, the ricin, and its origin are still ongoing. Preliminary tests indicated the letter was no threat to the public.
These threatening letters have not been the only consequence to Collins voting for Kavanaugh.
Collins’ alma mater, St. Lawrence University, is calling on university officials to rescind an honorary degree awarded to her for voting to confirm Kavanaugh’s seat on the Supreme Court.
Over 1,800 alumni and dozens of faculty at the university plan to send letters to university officials on Oct. 16, 2018 demanding the college rescind the honorary degree given to the senator in 2017.
Collins graduated from the small liberal arts university in northern New York, in 1975. Since then, she has received two honorary degrees from the college. Most recently, she received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters.
A letter co-signed by over 1,300 alums stated that Collins’ support for Kavanaugh “is not in line with the core values” of the school. The senator was awarded her honorary degree in 2017 in recognition for not supporting the GOP attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the letter, her vote for Kavanaugh shows that she “lack[s] the integrity and commitment to justice that we expect from the St. Lawrence body.”
The call for the university to revoke the honorary degree is “in support of truth and for all of the victims of sexual assault and violence of which many of her fellow alumni and students have suffered.”
There was a separate message co-signed by dozens of faculty members. This letter stated that revoking the senator’s honorary degree has nothing to do with partisan politics. However, it stated that is would help to “dismantle rape culture” – what they define as “attitude and behavior that normalize and condone sexual assault.”
The faculty wrote that while their campus has come a long way in the years, since Collins was a student, to educate the school population about sexual assault and harassment. They are working harder to adjudicate it fairly when it does happen, however, they still have some hard work to do in and out of the classroom.
Since Collins is one of the most well-known alums, “speaking out against her actions is an exceptional act that contains risk, which is exactly why we find it the right action to take. It communicates that we find the dismantling of rape culture more important than saving face or avoiding critique that has the potential to threaten relationships with people who wield considerable power.”
Alumni and faculty have made it clear that they only want to revoke Collins’ 2017 honorary degree and not the honorary doctorate of law she was awarded in 1998.
Collins was the final GOP holdout to announce her support for Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Does she not have the right to vote without fear of punishment?
By Jeanette Smith
Fox Bangor: Senator Collins Returns Home After Threatening Letter Found by Her Husband
Townhall: Someone Sent a Threatening Letter, Allegedly Laced With ‘Ricin,’ to Sen. Collins’ Home in Maine
CBS: Alumni and faculty call on St. Lawrence University to rescind Susan Collins’ honorary degree
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