Lawmakers react to new security threats

'It's up to all of us to remain vigilant'

POSTED: 6:52 PM PDT April 17, 2013    UPDATED: 11:23 AM PDT April 19, 2013 
Powder scares hit from Salem to D.C.
SALEM, Ore. -

Several employees at the Oregon Department of Revenue building in Salem were evacuated Wednesday morning after an employee reported an unknown powder on the first floor.

It was soon determined to be harmless. But real threats in the nation's capital have everyone exercising caution.

While no threats have come in to Rep. Greg Walden's office in Bend or in Washington, D.C., still Walden and his staff are remaining vigilant.

It was the Senate off-site mail room that was targeted, in this case

Still -  all in government agencies are being cautious.  

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the people of Oregon's Second District to offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of the senseless act of terrorism in Boston," Walden said Tuesday, making remarks on the House floor about Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.

But later Tuesday evening, another scare as authorities discovered a letter with traces of ricin addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

And another letter with Ricin was found on Wednesday, addressed to President Obama. A Mississippi resident was arrested late Wednesday in those cases.

Walden was busy in committee hearings all day Wednesday and did not publicly comment about the latest scare, but his staff did speak with us.

"It's up to all of us -- and I think you hear this from law enforcement it's up to all of us to remain vigilant, to remain aware," said Walden Press Secretary Andrew Malcolm. "And if anyone hears or sees something suspicious, they report it to the authorities."

It's not just legislators in Washington watching everything closely, but also our state officials like Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend.

"I am worried about security, obviously, this close to the bombing in Boston," Conger said Wednesday.

Conger gives credit to Oregon State Police stationed in the Capitol for security.

"Although they are not horribly overt about it, they are around in the building and very watchful," Conger said. "So, in fact, I feel pretty safe."

The threats on Capitol Hill come at a very busy time, as a number of Oregonians are in town for tours of the Capitol and for meetings with lawmakers, including Walden.

"We always remain vigilant here," Malcolm said. "And I would like to add we are very thankful to the brave men and women of law enforcement who work day and night to protect us here every single day."

We also reached out to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Their staff told us they don't comment on these issues, in part to minimize the risk of copycat crimes.