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Crime News

'Tiger King' Star Joe Exotic Announces 2024 Presidential Bid: 'I Can Run For President From Prison'

Joe Exotic, the "Tiger King" star whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is trying to claw his way into the 2024 presidential race, even though he's currently in prison on multiple convictions. 

By Gina Salamone
Peacock’s “Joe Vs Carole” Cast Breaks Down How Scripted Show Is A Fresh Take On ‘Tiger King’ Saga

Joe Exotic is trying to claw his way into the 2024 presidential race, even though he's currently sitting behind bars. Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage and who famously was the focus of the Netflix documentary series "Tiger King," is in prison on multiple convictions. 

Those convictions include two counts of attempted murder for hire for trying to arrange the killing of rival Carole Baskin, founder of a big cat rescue organization. His 21-year prison sentence also covered his convictions on eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

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Exotic, 60, is running as a Libertarian, and he had a message for anyone questioning his ability to enter the race from prison. "Yes. I can run for President from prison, as a felon," his Twitter account posted Wednesday. "Please go learn your constitution, before you vote."

A convicted felon can indeed run for president of the United States, according to the website Recording Law.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic

Exotic also called on President Biden and former President Donald Trump to debate him on justice and prison reform in an earlier tweet Wednesday. Biden, a Democrat, has not yet officially announced his intention to run for re-election, though he's widely expected to. Trump, a Republican and Biden's immediate predecessor, announced his candidacy for the upcoming race last November.

Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor; and self-help author Marianne Williamson are among the others who have officially entered the race.

Among the platforms listed on Exotic's campaign page, titled "Joe Exotic for a Free America," are: "Keep your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Free America from the controlling left and right"; "Live how you want, love who you want, and be what you want, without hurting others"; and "When you allow the government to tell you what you can or can't do with your own body, you no longer own yourselves."

The 2020 Department of Justice statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Oklahoma detailed that evidence showed that beginning in July 2016, Exotic repeatedly tried to find someone to murder Baskin in exchange for money, which led to him meeting an undercover FBI agent in 2017. A recording of this meeting included discussions of details of the planned murder.

Evidence was also presented that Exotic shot and killed five tigers in October 2017, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In his campaign statement, Exotic defended that act by writing, "The only thing I did was put five very old, crippled tigers to sleep in the most humane way possible and it was approved by my USDA Inspector, so it's time to get over it. PeTA kills thousands of animals a year. Carole has killed over 226 big cats and most of you eat some kind of animal everyday, so it's time to move past this issue."

Exotic also claimed he was convicted due to corruption. "I have been put here only because of the corruption in the Department of Justice," he claimed. "Three felons that were told how to lie under oath to further this agenda, two corrupt Assistant U.S. Attorneys, two corrupt FBI Agents. and one corrupt Federal Wildlife Agent."

The "Tiger King" star previously was a 2016 write-in candidate for president, according to FOX10, and declared that he was running as a Libertarian candidate for Oklahoma governor in 2017, a race that he finished third in during a three-way primary.

Exotic made news last month for reportedly refusing medical treatment after finding out that his prostate cancer was spreading. 

"Tiger King" fans, be sure to check out the original scripted series Joe Vs. Carole, streaming now on Peacock.

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