FBI investigating after Conservation Voters NM gets letter with threats and ‘substance’

By: - October 28, 2022 12:22 pm

Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces) was also a target of threats in the letter the FBI is investigating, according to Conservation Voters New Mexico. Small is shown here during the last legislative session.

The FBI is looking into a threatening letter received Wednesday at the Santa Fe office of the Conservation Voters New Mexico, according to the organization and an FBI spokesperson. 

The letter contained a chemical substance, which CVNM said in a statement “contained ingredients of a potent toxin used in terrorist attacks” but that the FBI determined was inert. 

Reached Friday, CVNM spokesperson Michael Jensen referred any additional questions about the substance to the bureau. FBI spokesperson Frank Fisher told Source New Mexico on Friday that investigators are looking into the matter and that the substance was deemed not harmful. 

“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we are not releasing specific details,” Fisher said. “FBI is looking into this substance, which was tested and determined not harmful.”

Anyone with information should call the FBI, he said. Santa Fe Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In addition to the substance, the letter contained campaign material attacking N.M. Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), including “offensive and threatening language directed at Small, the Democratic Party of New Mexico and CVNM,” along with antisemitic symbols, according to the organization’s statement.

The Conservation Voters staff member who first encountered the letter was sent to the hospital out of precaution, Jensen said, but she was unharmed. No one was injured, he said.

The CVNM office in Santa Fe is now closed and will be until at least after the election, Jensen told Source New Mexico.

In a statement, the organization’s Executive Director Demis Foster condemned what the group called a “politically charged domestic terrorism attempt.”

“We are relieved that no one was harmed, but whoever carried out this vicious act was clearly intending harm,” Foster said.” We want to be completely clear: someone has attempted to cause serious harm to people in our organization as part of a threat against Rep. Small and Democrats more broadly. There is no place in a functioning democracy for anyone to resort to the use of terror because they disapprove of a candidate for public office.”

Small, in the same statement, said it was “devastating” that the staff at CVNM would face such an attack, and he called for an end to dangerous and inflammatory political rhetoric that leads to events like this. 

Conservation Voters New Mexico is a nonpartisan organization that pushes for environmental preservation and clean air and water. It also issues policy scorecards for different candidates and makes endorsements. 

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard. Along the way, he's won several state and national awards for his reporting, including for an exposé on a cult-like Alcoholics Anonymous group and a feature on an Upstate New York militia member who died of COVID-19. He's thrilled to be back home in New Mexico, where he works to tell stories that resonate and make an impact.

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