Polcie Determine Substance Inside Envelope Was Green Tea
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- An envelope with a suspicious substance in it was sent to U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's Manchester office on Wednesday.
Shea-Porter's staff notified Manchester police when they received the suspicious envelope. Officials were able to determine that the substance was green tea and had been sent as a protest.
There was a return address on the envelope, and police spoke to the sender. Police said the sender showed a lack of judgment but didn't mean to cause alarm. The same person sent similar letters to U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Dem Staff Seeks "Refuge" from Tea Bag
Shea-Porter Staff Seeks “Refuge” from Tea Bag
Taxpayer tea parties have rattled some politicians in Washington, as thousands have gathered in cities across America to object to President Obama’s spending policies. But no politician was rattled as severely as the staff of Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) was yesterday.
After opening an envelope containing a teabag and marked “Tea Protest” in the Congresswoman’s Manchester office, Shea-Porter’s staff called Capitol Police and city police and firefighters.
The authorities instructed Shea-Porter’s staff to seek “refuge” as they performed field tests on the substance contained in the tea bag. It turned out to be green tea.
The culprit was a Pelham, NH man named Michael Yannetti, who objects to $3.6 trillion in new federal spending. Charges will not be filed against him, police say.
There was no indication that the whole affair was an April Fool’s joke.
Joseph W. McQuaid: Don't blame Shea-Porter; It's a sign of the times
By JOSEPH W. MCQUAID
New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher
U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is receiving considerable grief for her Manchester office's reaction to an envelope containing tea, sent as part of a national protest over federal spending. Critics say her office should have known about the protest and should not have called out Manchester police and firefighters, even at the suggestion of Capitol Police. After all, the envelope was marked "tea protest'' and had the sender's name and address.
But the sender, a Pelham dentist, didn't mail a tea bag or a tea tag. He poured loose green tea leaves into an envelope. What a clever way for someone to do harm to someone under the guise of a national protest. Have we all forgotten the fatal anthrax powder attacks of a few years ago?
How ironic, too, if the people protesting the spending of taxpayer money end up causing more of it to be spent by not thinking twice about how to protest.
We hope Shea-Porter's office will use discretion as well as caution in handling what will no doubt be even more protests in the days ahead. And we hope responsible protesters will save the tea and simply send post cards marked "tea protest'' instead.
Tea protests brew nationally
By DAN TUOHY AND GARRY RAYNO
New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER – Organizers of two "tax day tea parties" ask people not to mail tea to elected leaders, but politicians are getting plenty of tea mail anyway.
Mike Biundo, a coordinator of a tea party protest April 15 in Manchester, advised supporters to send the label of a tea bag, not the bag or tea leaves.
"People are fired up and they want to express themselves," he said. "We just want to make sure they do it in a responsible way."
A "suspicious" white envelope of loose tea leaves prompted the brief closure Wednesday of the Manchester office of Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. U.S. Capitol Police told the workers not to open the envelope and to call city police and fire. A spokesman said staff was just following procedures adopted for handling suspicious mail.
A field test conducted by Manchester firefighters identified it as green tea.
Michael Yannetti of Pelham, who sent the envelope, marked it "Tea Party" to protest federal spending and bailouts. He sent similar letters to the other members of the state's congressional delegation.
U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg's press secretary, Laena Fallon, said the senator's New Hampshire offices received a few letters with tea inside, but "we're not brewing any tea with it."
She said people in the senator's office were aware a protest was planned. "We considered it a unique way for constituents to share their opinion," Fallon said.
She said Gregg's Washington office had not yet received any mailed tea, but noted mail takes several days longer to arrive because everything is scanned off site after the anthrax scare in 2001.
Manchester firefighters exit from Carol Shea Porter's office in Manchester on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes press secretary Mark Bergman said the congressman's Concord office received one letter with green tea from the same gentleman who sent the letter to Shea-Porter's Manchester office.
"In our office, we threw it away. We did not throw the letter away, we threw the tea away and will respond to the constituent appropriately," Bergman said.
Hodes' staff was not aware of the nationwide protest until receiving the letter and seeing the news yesterday, Bergman said.
The Washington office of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen received some mailed tea, but had been alerted by Capitol Police about the mailings before they arrived, said spokesman Alex Reese.
After news of the tea party protests, the U.S. Postal Service alerted its many offices about potential tea mail last month, said Todd Skulnik, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Manchester. He said he is not aware of any law against mailing tea bags or tea leaves.
"We're not happy about it, to say the least," he said. "It's just inconvenient for us if it pops open in mail processing."
If such a parcel were to break open, it could trigger first responders and affect or damage automated equipment, he said.
There are several groups organizing local and national tax protests, using the idea of the Boston Tea Party as protest inspiration.
Julie Johnson, a spokesman for the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party, said her organization has 450 tea parties, with at least one in each state, planned for April 15. Each rally will be a little different, although each will focus on fiscal troubles and have tea as symbolism, Johnson said.
Tax Day Tea Party is also not encouraging taxpayers to mail tea to politicians. "I don't think it helps us at all," Johnson said.
After reading the story of the errant "tea protest," Jerry LaCorte of Derry said it was unfortunate the letter to Shea-Porter's office came across as "some sort of domestic terrorism."
LaCorte, an independent voter, praised the tea protest.
"What other forms do we have? E-mail is bounced. They don't read letters. I think they fall on deaf ears in Washington," he said.