White powder mailed to Lingle harmless
A mysterious envelope closes the Governor's Office for three hours
An envelope with a Philippine postmark containing a suspicious white powder caused officials to shut down the Governor's Office on the fifth floor of the state Capitol yesterday.
The substance was identified by the Honolulu Fire Department's hazardous materials unit as Johnson & Johnson baby powder, and there were no injuries.
Lingle, who was readying for a news conference to show off a federal official awarding the state $500,000 for excellent performance in administering food stamps, was stuck in her office with the assembled news media for three hours.
"Talk about your worst nightmare," Lingle quipped as she fielded questions from reporters about the office shutdown.
Lenny Klompus, Lingle's communications director and senior policy adviser, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had taken over the matter and was investigating who sent the envelope to Lingle.
The envelope had scrawled across the front, "To the honorable Governor, Miss Linda Lingle, Hawaii, USA."
The envelope contained no letter, just the white powder.
Klompus said Lisa Vallejos, a receptionist, opened the envelope at about 10 a.m. with an automatic letter opener.
"There was a puff of powder, and she put it in a cardboard box and was smart enough to immediately turn it over to authorities," Klompus said.
The city's Hazmat team put the substance through an infrared scanner, Klompus said, and it was immediately recognized as a harmless substance.
Klompus said officials did not know why the letter was sent or if it was related to Lingle's recent trip to the Philippines.
Lingle said the receptionist "feels fine, and we have a lot of confidence in the Hazmat team."