By DAVID SKOLNICK
While going through the mail, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s staff members at his Youngstown office came across a letter that made them concerned, a spokesman said.
The letter addressed to the congressman had no return address and had “critical information” and “requested information” written on it, said Patrick Lowry, a Ryan spokesman.
“It looked suspicious,” he said. “No one wanted to open it. Given the nature of the current atmosphere, we felt we needed to take the precaution to handle it the way we did.”
That meant calling the city police department. Police officers and firefighters were at Ryan’s congressional office at the Youngstown Business Incubator on West Federal Street minutes after the call was made about 11 a.m. Thursday.
The Youngstown bomb squad waited outside.
Employees at companies at the incubator weren’t evacuated.
A police officer wearing rubber gloves opened the envelope and found an “angry letter” about Ryan’s vote in favor of the health-care bill inside, Lowry said.
Ryan’s staff is being safe and not overreacting, Lowry said.
There have been reports of death threats to various members of Congress in the wake of the U.S. House’s March 21 passage of a health-care bill that Ryan, of Niles, D-17th, voted for.
A threat to blow up Ryan’s Warren office was recently made, Lowry said. Ryan’s office called the FBI and Capitol police to investigate.
Ryan’s offices have received “some angry calls,” primarily after the vote, but “it’s really slowed down” since then, Lowry said.
Ryan postponed an informational meeting Tuesday at the Youngstown Community Health Center on Wick Avenue about the health-care bill, citing potential danger to himself and others and inadequate security.
About 15 demonstrators opposed to the bill were at the center’s entrance with protest signs. No threats were reported.