Reality TV star Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic and “Tiger King,” has announced he is launching his 2024 presidential campaign from prison.
He is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2019 for a murder-for-hire plot and various wildlife charges.
“Thank you for your interest in my campaign,” he said in a statement,
“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.
“So 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.”
— The Hill (@thehill) March 15, 2023
— WGN Morning News (@WGNMorningNews) March 15, 2023
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.
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.