Rubio official’s ‘punch’ fails to land any charge

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

The political “punch” reported around the world failed to have an impact on the Mackinac County prosecutor, who said Monday no charges will result from a brief Mackinac Island bar scuffle involving two presidential political operatives on the eve of last weekend’s state Republican conference.

A top official for Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign said he was punched in the face by a man working for rival Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

But Mackinac County Prosecutor Stuart Spencer said based his review of the police report and a video of the incident early last Friday at Horn’s Gaslight Bar, “with a clear conscience, I can’t file a charge.”

Grand Rapids consultant John Yob, Paul’s national political director, said he was assaulted by Rich Beeson, Florida Sen. Rubio’s deputy campaign manager. The Mackinac Island police force investigated the incident.

Yob, a Michigan GOP political operative, released a barroom surveillance video Friday showing a man extending an open-handed thrust to the head of another man. He called for the Rubio campaign to fire Beeson.

“There wasn’t a brawl and the assault shouldn’t be over-sensationalized but the video speaks for itself that he hit me in the chin as he walked by me,” Yob wrote on Facebook. “You can’t just go around the country in positions of political authority and get physically violent with people you don’t like.”

Rubio and Paul “need to have a conversation with their staffs about proper behavior,” Spencer said Monday, but the incident doesn’t warrant criminal charges.

The incident was the talk of Mackinac Island early in the conference that brought more than 2,200 Michigan Republicans and five 2016 GOP presidential candidates including Paul to the Grand Hotel. Rubio did not attend the conference.