Republican Senator Jason Priest arrested

2014-02-02T10:29:00Z 2014-03-07T14:28:04Z Republican Senator Jason Priest arrestedBy CHRIS CIOFFI ccioffi@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Yellowstone County Detention Facility officials have confirmed that Jason Sheller Priest, a Republican state senator representing District 30 in Red Lodge, was housed at the jail on Sunday morning.

He is being held on $335 bond after being arrested on suspicion of partner family member assault and resisting arrest.

The Yellowstone County Detention Facility’s website listed the 45-year-old lawmaker as having been booked into jail on Saturday. 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.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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