A natural medicine lobbyist dropped off a bottle of nutritional capsules labeled "Calm" to the office of state Sen. Charles Schwertner.
They had the opposite effect.
Staffers in Schwertner's office called the Texas Department of Public Safety after the supplements were dropped off Tuesday by a representative of the Texas Health Freedom Coalition, an advocacy group for natural health and alternative medicine.
Coalition executive committee member Radhia Gleis said Schwertner's office overreacted to the gift, but the senator's chief of staff, Thomas Holloway, said the office staff was complying with direction from DPS and wasn't trying to worry anyone.
Still, the coalition capitalized on the incident and used it to help spread awareness about its legislative goals. Gleis also had strong words for Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon in Georgetown who represents Bryan and College Station in the Senate.
"This is a perfect example of a medical doctor who knows nothing about these herbs," Gleis said.
Gleis said the lobbyist gave all members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services the capsules, a health book and a one-page summary of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Texans to choose their health care from alternative or natural providers. She said the group had many natural supplements to chose from, but went with "calm" variety in a somewhat joking manner.
The capsules, she said, contained magnesium and the herb ashwagandha. The bottle was commercially produced and clearly labeled, she added.
"We thought it would be appropriate for the Legislature this time of year," Gleis said of the "Calm" capsules. "It's a crazy time with lots of stress. [We] thought it would be a nice gesture to add a little bottle of calm."
Schwertner's staff felt differently. Holloway indicated that the way in which the natural medicine advocates approached the staffers is what sparked the investigation, and that labels are not always indicative of contents.
"Based on the protocols they've asked us to follow and based on the manner in which the person presented them, members of our office felt it was suspicious enough to inform DPS of," Holloway said.
He said the staff was just trying to comply with direction for DPS.
"Due to recent security concerns all legislative offices have been asked to immediately contact the Department of Public Safety if they receive any packages or deliveries of a suspicious nature," Holloway said. "Our office complied with these guidelines."
DPS communication director Tom Vinger confirmed Wednesday the investigation into the bottle was concluded. It lasted less than 24 hours.
"In accordance with security protocols at the state Capitol, state officials are urged to contact DPS any time they have security or safety concerns," Vinger said in a prepared statement. "That is exactly what happened in this case. After looking into this specific matter, DPS determined that no additional action was necessary."