(Reuters) - The man accused of tackling Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and breaking his ribs as he was mowing his lawn pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a misdemeanor assault charge, a court official said.
Rene Boucher, 59, officially waived the formal reading of the charge at a hearing in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Warren County Deputy Court Clerk Supervisor Brian Runner said.
Boucher, Paul's neighbor, is charged with fourth-degree assault causing minor injury, for which he faces up to a year in jail if convicted. A pre-trial hearing was set for Nov. 30.
Paul, 54, told police Boucher came onto his property in a gated community near Bowling Green and tackled him from behind, the Bowling Green Daily News reported, citing an arrest warrant.
Paul on Wednesday said on Twitter that he suffered six broken ribs and that X-rays showed a pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid in the tissues that line the lungs and the chest.
Matt Baker, Boucher's attorney, was not immediately available to comment.
However, Baker told Bowling Green television station WBKO that the incident was related to a property dispute and called the idea that Paul was "blindsided" an unfair characterization. Baker also told the TV station that politics was not a motivating factor in the dispute.
Media reports have said Boucher, a physician like Paul, had a long-running dispute with the Republican senator.
Paul's office on Thursday did not immediately respond to a query about when the senator would return to the Senate. Earlier this week, U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Paul would return next week.
Paul has voiced concern that the House tax bill could raise taxes on some middle class Americans.
Boucher's $7,500 bond requiring him to keep a distance of at least 1,000 feet between himself and Paul remains in effect, Runner said in an email to Reuters.
Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Twitter Thursday questioned why Boucher was allowed to be freed on bond when Paul's injuries were so grievous.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Tom Brown)