Thomas Jones has been a vocal part of PETA since 2012, using social media and appearances at PETA events to rally the troops against one organization in particular: SeaWorld. Some of his social media remarks reportedly include “Burn SeaWorld to the ground,” and “drain the new tanks at #SeaWorld.” Jones has attended peaceful protests on behalf of PETA at events like the 2014 Rose Parade, as well as other gatherings around the San Diego area. There’s just one problem with Jones: he supposedly doesn’t exist.
In a press release issued today by the animal-caring organization, PETA states:
Thomas Jones has been trying to cozy up to PETA employees and unsuspecting members of the public who object to SeaWorld’s practices, attending animal rights meetings and peaceful protests at SeaWorld and going so far as to post inflammatory messages on social media…in an attempt to incite illegal actions.
Indeed, Jones’ messages seems a bit extreme and inflammatory, but whether or not they were meant to incite illegal action still remains to be proven. What is known about Jones is that he may not be who he says he is, and that evidence is pretty damning. During the previously mentioned Rose Parade in 2014, Jones — along with many other PETA members — was arrested and thrown in a police van following a protest. He can be seen circled in the photo below.
Lisa Lange — a spokeswoman for PETA — told Bloomberg that following the arrest (for civil disobedience) Jones was nowhere to be seen. The Pasadena police department, also, has no arrest records for a Mr. Thomas Jones on that occasion. Suspicions within the organization arose even more, when pictures of Jones on his Facebook page looked very similar to pictures of another man, Paul T. McComb. McComb’s pictures appeared on Brittany McComb’s Facebook page — his wife — but the pages of both Jones and Brittany McComb have been taken down as of yesterday.
Back to the incident at the 2014 Rose Parade — if there were no arrest records for Thomas Jones, then why were there none for Paul McComb if Jones was an alias? Katie Arth — a spokeswoman for PETA — spoke to Uproxx and had similar questions about the arrest.
“We’re currently looking in to that, and PETA has filed a public records request with the Pasadena police department, so that we can obtain any documentation related to his arrest on that day.”
“We agree,” said Arth.
More evidence abounds. Following a protest in San Diego on June 6, PETA was able to obtain the license plate of Thomas Jones, which was traced back to Paul McComb. When Jones signed up on an official PETA website, he supplied two addresses. One address — in Jamul — does not exist. The second address was a P.O. box belonging to Mr. Ric Marcelino. Who is Mr. Marcelino? Well, he’s the head of security for SeaWorld’s San Diego branch. Furthermore, McComb used to live in Jamul, and the street that he supplied does exist where McComb lives now. This begs the question: if SeaWorld did in fact place a spy within the ranks of PETA, why did they do such a terrible job at covering their tracks?
“SeaWorld sent in a clumsy spy to attempt to distract attention from the wrongdoings of keeping animals in captivity,” explained Arth. “They may or may not be experts in corporate espionage, but it’s clear that the reason why they’ve done this is that they were trying to incite violence and change the message that there are kind and compassionate people who do not want to support organizations that abuse animals for profit.”
And there is that phrase: corporate espionage. If what SeaWorld is doing is “corporate espionage,” then what can be said about PETA’s attempts to recruit “undercover investigators” to infiltrate organizations that they deem guilty of exposing animals to some form of cruelty?
“In social justice movements, it’s par for the course for groups like PETA to work to expose wrongdoings like cruelty to animals,” says Arth. “What SeaWorld’s doing is corporate espionage, where they’re using dirty tricks to attempt to distract the message from the core goal of what PETA is, which is that animals are not ours to use for any reason.”
This is not the first time PETA has dealt with a situation like this. Arth pointed towards a case in the ’90s where Ringling Bros. supposedly went as far as stealing documents and wiretapping the organization to obtain sensitive data. Despite the clandestine movements by SeaWorld, police are not yet involved in the matter as no crimes have been exposed as of yet; the investigation remains an internal one on PETA’s end. “We’ve reached out to some authorities, but there’s no actions (ongoing) or anything specific,” said Arth.
So, is there anything PETA can do to ensure that nothing of this nature — spies infesting their ranks — happens again?
“At this time we don’t have any new protocols we have put in place, because the reality is all this clumsy spy did was find out that people were doing peaceful protests holding signs,” said Arth. “He was the one trying to incite violence saying things like ‘we should drain the new tanks’ and ‘bring torches’ — all of the people on our side are trying to free animals and bring positive change.”
SeaWorld has yet to release an official statement regarding Paul McComb’s employment with the company.