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How Did Rand Paul Get 6 Broken Ribs? Story Gets Odder

Motivation behind alleged assault on senator is a deepening mystery
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2017 1:30 PM CST
How Did Rand Paul Get 6 Broken Ribs? Story Gets Odder
Rene Boucher, center, appears in court for an arraignment hearing with his attorney, left, on Thursday at the Warren County Justice Center in Bowling Green, Ky.   (Austin Anthony/Daily News via AP)

(Newser) – The 59-year-old neighbor accused of tackling Sen. Rand Paul while he was mowing his lawn last Friday in Kentucky pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist and Democrat who has lived next to Paul in a gated community for years, faces up to a year in jail on the misdemeanor charge but could face a much harsher penalty if an ongoing investigation results in felony charges. Meanwhile, the reason for the alleged attack by a neighbor is a mystery that's only getting deeper. On Thursday, Boucher's lawyer said the incident "was unequivocally not about politics"—a motivation that would make more serious federal charges more likely—and that musings of a property dispute are more "on target." More:

  • While not coming out and saying it, Paul seems to dispute the landscaping disagreement explanation, Politico reports. On Wednesday, the senator tweeted links to Breitbart News and Washington Examiner stories that quoted neighbors skeptical of that motive and hinted at political reasons for the alleged attack.
  • Paul also updated his medical condition on Wednesday, stating that he has six broken ribs—not five—and a buildup of fluid near his lungs, according to the Hill.

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  • Chris Cillizza at CNN says the alleged attack by a neighbor "is strange on its face," the explanation of a fight over lawn trimmings or leaves "was even stranger," and Paul tweeting stories calling that explanation into question "is even stranger still."
  • For all the talk from neighbors about an ongoing dispute between Paul and Boucher over landscaping, USA Today quotes one longtime Paul neighbor who says Boucher "has not so much as exchanged an email or spoken word with Rand or (his wife) in several years." And one neighbor says he's heard reasons beyond landscaping for the attack.
  • Virginia Postrel at Bloomberg believes she knows one reason for the attack: Paul's libertarianism. The developer of the gated community says Paul has chafed at the community's rules and regulations. Postrel says if that's true, "Paul has a highly selective idea of property rights. His get-out-of-my-face version of libertarianism doesn’t seem to respect the crucially important freedom to make, and responsibility to respect, contracts."
  • Tim Morris at the Times-Picayune agrees. "Paul is one of the nation's most prominent libertarians, a movement that promotes individual liberty and minimized government intervention, an ideology that one might expect to clash with the rules and regulations of [a] higher-end neighborhood known as Rivergreen," he writes.
(Read more Rand Paul stories.)

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