It's no secret that politicians face immense pressure from many different sources, including voters, special interest groups, members of their own party, and yes, sometimes from people who wish them ill. In May 2021, a U.S. senator received an alarming piece of mail at his home, along with a threatening letter. But what, exactly, happened to Rand Paul? Let's take a closer look.
What happened to Rand Paul?
On Monday, May 24, 2021, the office of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said a suspicious package containing white powder was sent to the senator's home. The FBI and Capitol Police investigated the substance and later determined that it was not hazardous, a law enforcement officer told NBC News.
Along with the white powder was a note with a picture of Rand, bruised and bandaged, with a gun to his head and a threat that read: "I’ll finish what your neighbor started you motherf---er."
"I take these threats immensely seriously," Rand tweeted the same day. "As a repeated target of violence, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family."
It's not clear whether Rand was in Kentucky at the time the suspicious package arrived. The senator's wife Kelley Paul, tweeted, "I got the death threat letter and called the FBI."
Out of an abundance of caution, the substance was taken to a lab for further testing. “This is an open investigation,” a Capitol Police statement said.
Both Kelley and Rand appear to place blame on pop singer/songwriter Richard Marx for "inciting violence" against their family. That's because on May 23, Richard tweeted that he wanted to thank Rene Boucher, a neighbor who was arrested and charged with assaulting Rand back in 2017.
"You know, hundreds of people on Twitter every day are wishing me violence, wishing my family violence," Rand told Fox News, referring to Richard as "this songwriter from a long time ago that nobody has heard ever of."
Why was Rand Paul assaulted, anyway?
On Nov. 3, 2017, Rand's neighbor Rene Boucher tackled him following a dispute he and the senator had over yard waste. According to court documents, Boucher "had enough" of Rand's yard maintenance mannerisms when he saw him stacking brush into a pile on his own lawn near Boucher's property. That's when he ran onto Rand's property and tackled him — causing Rand to suffer broken ribs in the attack.
Boucher was charged with assaulting a member of Congress and initially sentenced to 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine. An additional eight months in prison and six months in home confinement was tacked on in July 2020. Boucher was ordered to pay Rand more than $580,000 in damages in a separate civil case.
“I don't know what a night without pain is like or what a day without pain is like, so I do suffer from this,” Rand said during that July 2020 virtual hearing. “This was no routine altercation. This was no sort of face-to-face, man-to-man thing."