After Rand Paul received a suspicious package containing white powder at his home on Monday, the Kentucky Republican senator pointed the finger at an improbable alleged instigator: the 1980s pop star Richard Marx.
“As a repeated target of violence, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family,” Paul said in a statement.
“Just this weekend Richard Marx called for violence against me and now we receive this powder-filled letter.”
After Paul said on Sunday he would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, Marx tweeted that if he ever met the senator’s erstwhile neighbor, who broke Paul’s ribs during a property dispute in 2017, he would “hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume”.
Rene Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress after tackling Paul, allegedly in a squabble over landscaping.
In an outlandish turn of events, Paul linked Marx’s dismissive social media barb to the potentially dangerous package, which according to Fox News contained an image of the senator in a neck brace, wearing a cast, using a crutch and with a gun to his head.
At the bottom of the picture was the caption: “I’ll finish what your neighbor started, you motherfucker.”
Law enforcement agencies including the FBI Louisville office, a local sheriff’s office and Capitol police are investigating. On Tuesday, the Warren county sheriff said the substance in the package appeared not to be toxic.
Marx, meanwhile, has been bombarded by online attacks.
“You know who actually put multiple people’s lives at potential risk?” Marx said on Monday, linking to an article about how Paul attended a lunch meeting and swam at the Senate gym before receiving a Covid-19 diagnosis.
Paul tested positive for the virus in March last year, the first senator known to have been infected.
“Until they show me evidence that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers or being hospitalized or getting very sick,” Paul said, “I just made my own personal decision that I’m not getting vaccinated because I’ve already had the disease and I have natural immunity.”