LOUISVILLE — The history between U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and his neighbor, who is accused of attacking him, is filled with years of angst and petty arguments over misplaced lawn trimmings and branches, the neighborhood's developer said.
"I think this is something that has been festering," said Jim Skaggs, the developer of the Rivergreen gated community in Bowling Green, where the two men live. "I wanted to build a place where everyone could get along, but I guess that's just impossible."
Paul suffered five broken ribs and lacerations on his lungs after his neighbor, 59-year-old retired doctor Rene Boucher, allegedly tackled the politician last week, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Courier Journal.
Kentucky State Police charged Boucher with fourth-degree assault, which is usually reserved for incidents that result in minor injuries. If federal charges are added, Boucher could potentially face 10 years in prison for physically attacking a politician.
An FBI spokesman said Tuesday there was no update in the investigation or on whether additional charges would be filed.
The two men have been neighbors for more than 17 years, said Boucher's lawyer, Matt Baker, in a statement Monday.
While there's no official word on what caused the fight, Skaggs suggested it might have stemmed from Paul allegedly blowing lawn trimmings into his neighbor's yard.
There have been disagreements in the past, Skaggs said, over lawn clippings or who should cut down a tree branch when it stretched over a property line. The two men live on different streets but their lots join and their homes are 269 feet apart, according to Google Maps.
Skaggs described Boucher as a "near-perfect" neighbor, but he said the libertarian politician is a different story.
Paul "was probably the hardest person to encourage to follow the (homeowner's association regulations) of anyone out here because he has a strong belief in property rights," said Skaggs, who is the former chairman of the Warren County Republican Party.
Skaggs noted the 13 pages of regulations are extensive. But even from the start of Paul's residence in Rivergreen, Skaggs said Paul has been difficult to work with.
"The major problem was getting the house plans approved," Skaggs said. "He wanted to actually own the property rights and build any kind of house he wanted. He didn't end up doing that, but it was a struggle."
But Rob Porter, a 20-year friend of the senator, said he had never even heard of Boucher before.
"When I saw Rand after the incident, he even acknowledged that he hadn't talked to Boucher in years," Porter said. "If there was some kind of ongoing rift, i wasn't aware of it and Rand didn't act like he was aware of it."
When asked for comment, a statement from Paul's senior adviser said, "It is a pending, serious criminal matter involving state and federal authorities. We won’t have any further comments at this time.”
After being "blindsided" by the attack, it's unclear when the Republican senator from Kentucky will return to work, according to several statements from Paul's aides.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Kentucky Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that he has spoken with Paul and he will be back at work in Washington as soon as next week.
Voter records from March 2017 show Boucher registered as a Democrat, but his lawyer said Monday that politics had nothing to do with the dispute between neighbors.
Boucher's lawyer, Baker, said he would not comment on what the argument was over until he conducted more interviews with other neighbors.
Skaggs said he told Boucher he wants the ordeal to be done with.
"We would really like to see this all over and you back in your house and him back in his house and try to be friends with each other, even though you'll never like each other," Skaggs said he told Boucher.
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY
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