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The Extremely Petty Details of the Neighbor Feud That Broke Rand Paul’s Ribs

The story behind the assault on the senator is so much stranger, and more mundane, than anyone thought.

by Eve Peyser
Jun 12 2018, 7:10pm

Photo of Rand Paul by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

In November, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was hospitalized with multiple broken ribs after a his neighbor tackled him. It was an odd bit of political news made odder because the nature of the dispute between the two men wasn't clear. That changed a few days ago, when the Bowling Green Daily News got their hands on a ten-page memorandum filed by the defense, which included additional information about Paul's feud with his neighbor of 17 years, Rene Boucher. The drama, as it turns out, is even weirder than it seems.

In September, the Republican senator created a ten-foot-wide, five-foot-tall pile of branches by the line separating his property from Boucher's. This angered Boucher so much that weeks later, with the pile still there, Boucher removed the debris from Paul's yard and put them in the dumpster. “Even though this debris was not on Dr. Boucher’s property, he viewed it as unsightly—as it was placed directly in his line of sight from his patio and the back door of his house,” Boucher's lawyer asserted in the memorandum.

Days after Boucher cleared the debris, Paul reconstructed the pile. Boucher cleared it again, and Paul once again rebuilt it. Here's where the drama heats up. From the Daily News:

On Nov. 2, a day before the tackle, Boucher used gasoline to burn a pile of yard debris that had been constructed just off the property line with Paul.

A fireball created from the burn caused Boucher to sustain second-degree burns on both of his arms as well as the left side of his neck and face, for which Boucher began seeking medical treatment Nov. 7.

On Nov. 3, Paul used his lawnmower to blow leaves from his property onto Boucher’s yard, according to Baker.

Blowing leaves into Boucher's yard was the last straw for him, according to the defense, and he tackled Paul as the senator was in the midst of carrying branches to once again reconstruct his makeshift wall.

In March, Boucher pled guilty to one count of assaulting a member of Congress. Bradley Shepard, the special prosecutor on the case, recommended a 21-month prison sentence, but Boucher's lawyer is asking for leniency "based upon the rather unique nature of the offense." In Paul's May 21 victim impact statement, he wrote that he “can only assume that [Boucher’s] deep-seated anger towards me co-mingles with his hatred of my political policies.” Boucher denies this.

Sergio Gor, Paul's deputy chief of staff, disputes Boucher's characterization of his conflict with Paul. “Before Senator Paul was violently attacked from behind," Gor told me in an emailed statement, "he had no conversations or discussions with the attacker. There was no 'longstanding dispute.'"

Gor added, "Any description of this attack that implies a 'yard dispute' justifies such violence and misses the point."

The conflict between Paul and Boucher teaches us a couple of things—first of all, the senator is even pettier than we ever imagined, and second, no matter how shitty your neighbor is, arson and assault will not solve your problem.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Paul's spokesperson.

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