BILLINGS – State Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge was in jail Sunday after being arrested on suspicion of partner or family assault and resisting arrest.
The Yellowstone County Detention Facility’s website listed the 45-year-old Republican lawmaker as having been booked into jail on Saturday. His bond was set at $335. A dispatcher at the jail said he was still in custody Sunday afternoon.
Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said he has no details about Priest’s arrest and referred questions to Red Lodge police. Red Lodge Police Chief Richard Pringle was unavailable for comment until Monday, a dispatcher at the police department said.
Messages left by The Associated Press on Sunday on Priest’s home phone and his district office in Red Lodge were not returned.
Priest was elected in 2010 to a four-year term and is the chairman of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee. He has not yet filed with the Secretary of State’s office to run for re-election this year, though he has until March 10 to do so.
Priest was one of the leaders of a conservative faction in the Senate last year that split with more moderate Republican legislators. The split led to infighting that came to a head on the Senate floor in the session’s final day as Priest and Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich of Bozeman threatened to kill a budget deal unless they received concessions from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
They relented after Bullock’s office refused to reopen negotiations.
Priest also is a founder of a nonprofit group called Montana Growth Network that champions conservative causes and helps like-minded candidates.