OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — The “Tiger King”‘ is throwing his hat in the ring for president. He said he’s not going to let his current prison term stop him from running for the nation’s top office.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic” is currently serving a 21-year federal sentence after being convicted on multiple charges. Even so, he launched a new campaign website, with a personal message: “Thank you for your interest in my Campaign. Yes, I know I am in Federal Prison and you might think this is a joke but it’s not. It is my Constitutional right to do this even from here.”
“Put aside that I am gay, that I am in prison for now, that I used drugs in the past, that I had more than one boyfriend at once, and that Carole hates my guts. This all has not a thing to do with me being able to be your voice. The best thing you have going for supporting me is that I am used to fighting my whole life just to get by. I am broke, they have taken everything I ever worked for away, and it’s time we take this country back,” he wrote on the campaign site.
In 2018, the former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of murder-for-hire. Prosecutors say Maldonado-Passage gave a person $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to Florida to carry out the murder of big cat activist Carole Baskin and “allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the deed,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.
A grand jury also indicted Maldonado-Passage on an additional 19 counts of wildlife charges, including the violation of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act. Prosecutors say he shot and killed five tigers in October 2017 to make room in cages for other big cats and sold tiger cubs to raise money.
The intended target of the hit was Baskin, a chief critic of Maldonado-Passage. Baskin successfully sued Maldonado-Passage for trademark infringement in 2011 and was outspoken about the treatment of animals at the park.
He was also accused of falsifying records relating to the tigers, lions, and a baby lemur that were purported to be donated or transported for exhibition but were actually sold. Maldonado-Passage attempted to have his conviction overturned but lost his appeal in 2022.