Major TEA Party Figure Arrested

Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) Yellowstone County Detention Facility mug shot.

Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) Yellowstone County Detention Facility mug shot.

Sen. Jason Priest has been arrested and was, as of 10:00 am this morning, in the Yellowstone County detention facility. A reliable source tells me he is there for Partner Family Member Assault and resisting arrest, with other assault charges pending. More to come.

Priest is an important figure because he is the rebel leader in the civil war within the Republican Party and runs a dark money group called Montana Growth Network, which tries to defeat moderates and take over the Montana Supreme Court.

He served as Chair of the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee and as vice-Chair of the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services during the 2013 legislature and is said to be seeking a leadership position in the 2015 session.  Priest told the Stillwater County News last week he plans to run in Senate District 29.

He also has a history of bigoted comments about LGBT people. Priest is the lawmaker who was forced to apologize for anti-gay remarks he made on his Facebook page, the Billings Gazette reported. Priest used his “hateful, homophobic talk” to argue his dislike for paying taxes.

Then there was the time during his 2010 campaign for the state legislature when Priest spoke to group of Tea Party followers, apparently unaware of a running camera. Priest said,

“I live in Red Lodge where I’m that guy that nobody agrees with, and I don’t mind. I have to talk to them about things that are important to them in ways that aren’t offensive to them. That’s a good lesson to learn. I would rather tell them they’re insane… Is that camera on?”

Priest has also taken heat for using his dark money group to lead the charge against Medicaid coverage for the working poor. Some of his considerable wealth has come from auctioning off the medical debt of people who can’t afford health care.

An interesting letter to the editor was published in the Billings Gazette during the 2011 legislative session which asks about the potential conflict of interest incurred by state Senator Jason Priest. Priest sponsored a bill that could reap financial benefits for the medical debt collection industry he comes from and lead the effort to block tens of thousands of working poor Montanans from getting health coverage through Medicaid–even though the federal government would pick up most of the tab.

For years Sen. Priest was the CEO of a company that specialized in collecting unpaid medical debts owed to hospitals.   The LTE reads:

State Sen. Jason Priest is the founder and president of Medipent, a New York company that relies on the huge mountain of personal debt generated by our broken health care system for its existence. Yet, as a representative of the people, he aligns himself in opposition to health care reform — a program that intends to eliminate the debt that sustains him and his company. How is his involvement not a conflict of interest?

Shortly after this post, the Billings Gazette reported they had confirmed that Priest had been booked into the jail in the middle of the night. Sources say that because of the nature of the charges against him, Priest must go before a judge before he can be released on bail. That could happen as early as tomorrow (Monday) morning, Feb. 3, in Billings, MT.

Jason Priest jailed


29 Comments on "Major TEA Party Figure Arrested"

  1. Political lexicon 2014: “Moderate” = Right wing pro-war pro-surveillance state pro-Wall Street anti-labor Democrat who favors legal abortion.

    Right wing pro-war pro-surveillance state pro-Wall Street anti-labor Republican who does not favor legal abortion = “extremist.”

  2. biblical………..reap what ye sow

  3. There’s plenty of time for another republican to now challenge him in the primary.

    We have a republican legislator serving from Missoula. Usually republicans have a tough time here, but not when the democratic candidate gets accused of beating his wife.

    She later dropped those charge, but the damage was done. Of course I doubt that person had a dark money machine in their pocket.

  4. Time for a new Senator, I guess. Bonehead.

  5. Aware and Not stupid | February 2, 2014 3:36 PM at 3:36 PM |

    Well, Jason’s living on the Government for a few meals, 3 hots and a flop courtesy of Yellowstone County! You can’t fix STUPID! Not even with duct tape!

  6. Is he running for office again? He hasn’t filed with MT SecST, and COPP doesn’t have a C-1 on file for him, at least online. And he doesn’t appear to be in a holdover district.

    Being arrested notwithstanding, he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. But a jailhouse Saturday night probably doesn’t improve his political resume.

  7. Good question. He told the Stillwater County news he was running – but that was last week….

  8. Didn’t this guy have a single friend that would be willing to put up the $300 bucks to bail him out. Priest is a millionaire many times over. I guess he can pay his lawyer to come get him out on Monday.

  9. YAAAAAAAAA!!! Round em’ up! This guy is NUTZ, & Dangerous!

  10. The question is will the hearing be public? Some of these judges don’t let television cameras into their hearings either, which in my opinion should not be allowed. If these are public proceedings then the public has a right to attend – especially if it is a public official, and since we can’t having a camera is the only option for most people to see what’s happening. Who is the judge?

  11. Watch Montana Growth Network’s ‘investors’ provide criminal attorney services – oh, they can’t – they’re all licensed out of state. But then there’s always the possibility Priest got his county’s judges elected too. Golly, the system works out well for him. But seriously, Priest needs to resign.

  12. He needs to resign, but the GOP will probably award him some kind of medal. This is exactly the kind of human gem Republicans worship – he was Majority Whip in the state senate last session, the was part of the secret emails leaked showing the plan to quash moderates and anyone who agreed to compromises between both parties on any topic. He’s a bigot who thinks his money and power mean he can do whatever he wants with no consequences. So yeah, probably he’s running for Governor in 2016.

  13. There is usually a NO Bond HOLD for PFMA. Must see a Judge who will set a bail amount. Might be o/r. Might have friends might not. But probably he had to spend weekend in jail until appearance before judge on Monday.

  14. “Montana Senate President Jeff Essmann (R) said on Monday that he planned to speak with Priest about the charges.

    “I will ask Sen. Priest to step back from his legislative duties and discuss his continued participation in the business of the Montana Senate from the perspective of what is in the best interests of his family, himself, and his constituents,” Essmann told The Associated Press.”

  15. Let out, on $1,500 Bond? I’m calling his WIFE! I hope she got a restraining order. He slammed his 4-Year-Old, onto the Pavement, and fractured her skull. How is he FREE, as a BIRD?

    • He’s free because he hasn’t been convicted of anything. Bail/bond is not to be used as a punishment but rather to guarantee that the party will appear.

Comments are closed.