The husband of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said he is concerned for his wife’s safety, a day after he opened a letter at their Bangor home that claimed to contain the deadly poison ricin.

Police responded and cordoned off the couple’s home Monday afternoon. They quarantined the senator’s husband, Thomas Daffron, their family dog and part of the residence before announcing that there was no threat to the public.

The incident is being investigated by local police and federal authorities, including the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police, but no new developments were released Tuesday in the ongoing effort to find who sent the letter.

“She’s been subject to a lot of threats and it’s – obviously, it’s scary,” Daffron said in an interview Tuesday with News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ).

The threats have come during and after the tense buildup to Collins’ pivotal vote Oct. 6 in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct during his high school and college years.

Kavanaugh angrily denied the allegations, and pressure mounted on Collins from both sides to either support or reject the nominee. Protesters swamped her offices in Portland and Washington, D.C., and dozens were arrested during demonstrations in the nation’s capital.

Collins was on her way back to Bangor when Daffron opened the letter Monday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the Republican senator said the envelope was addressed to Daffron, The Associated Press reported.

Police taped off the Bangor home of Sen. Susan Collins and some officers wore protective suits while investigating the delivery of a suspicious letter.

He told News Center Maine that he saw the letter while walking the dog. He said he saw the word “ricin” and then returned the letter to the envelope, sealed it in a plastic bag and dialed 911.

Bangor police received Daffron’s report of the suspicious letter at 1:39 p.m., and teams of investigators and a hazardous materials team from Orono were soon on scene at the couple’s home on West Broadway.

Photos and television footage showed a large area around their gray house cordoned off with yellow police tape and several officers wearing protective suits.

Collins arrived home in Bangor on Monday night.

So far, police have not disclosed the contents of the letter, or said whether it was sent through the U.S. Postal Service. Collins spoke briefly outside her home Tuesday, saying she was letting the FBI handle the investigation and thanking first responders for their professional response, according to WGME-TV.

Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Boston, which covers all of northern New England, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Collins’ husband, meanwhile, cited the national political climate during his brief comments to News Center Maine.

“If we don’t do something to restore civility to this process it’s going to be, you know, very difficult for this country to function,” Daffron said. “And I’ve never really seen anything like this, and I started in the Senate in the early 1970s.”

Daffron was a longtime aide to former U.S. Rep. and Sen. William S. Cohen, a Bangor native.

The letter’s author threatened that the note was contaminated with ricin, a poison derived from parts of the castor bean plant. Ricin can be deadly if it is ingested or inhaled, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The poison can take up to 72 hours or longer to be fatal, and symptoms vary based on how the ricin enters the body, but in general it works by inducing cell death by preventing the production of necessary proteins, which eventually can lead to organ damage. No vaccine is currently available to the general public, and treatment for ricin exposure requires continued supportive medical care, according to a briefing document prepared by the Congressional Research Service after ricin-laced letters were sent to then-President Barack Obama and a Mississippi senator in 2013.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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