“Tiger King” star Joe Exotic is suing the US Justice Department over the Trump Administration’s rejection of his official pardon request, according to a report.
Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — argues that the denial is not valid because the request was not presented directly to President Trump himself.
The suit names Acting Pardon Attorney Rosalind Sargent-Burns, according to a six-page complaint filed by Exotic’s lawyers and obtained by Courthouse News.
The big-cat aficionado first submitted a pardon application on Sept. 8. — and the Office of the Pardon Attorney emailed a response two days later denying the application.
In the complaint, Exotic alleges that Sargent-Burns never forwarded a formal recommendation to the president — something the lawsuit alleges she was required to do as an advisor, due to the fact that President Trump has the sole authority to issue pardons.
The complaint also names Donald Trump, Jr. as a supporter.
“Many people have come out and publicly expressed their disagreement with Joe Exotic’s conviction and subsequent sentence. Among those, are members of the President’s own family. Donald Trump Junior has been an advocate for Joe Exotic to be Pardoned.”
Exotic, whose exploits were the subject of a hit Netflix documentary series titled “Tiger King,” was convicted of 2 counts of murder-for-hire after trying to hire a hitman targeting rival big cat sanctuary owner Carole Baskin.
He was also convicted on eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, and is one year into his 22-year sentence.
Exotic has been angling for a presidential pardon for months. In April, President Trump said he would “take a look” at the former zoo owner’s pardon request.
Advocates for Exotic reportedly spent $10,000 at Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC., recently in an attempt to curry favor with the president.