We don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Arizona that seems to attract deceptive animal-rights activists. Last year we told you about activists’ efforts to get unscientific, misleading agriculture bans placed on the ballot, led by the New York-based Farm Sanctuary (a group which committed 210 acts of campaign-finance fraud and was fined $50,000 during a similar campaign in Florida). But not all of the deception comes from outside the state. As The Arizona Republic reported recently, some animal-rights lies are homegrown.

Local activist Jan McClellan leads Citizens Against Covance, which is working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in trying to stop a biomedical research company from building an animal facility in the city of Chandler. What she doesn’t want the public to know, however, is that multiple anti-research campaigners are also involved in protesting circuses that help raise funds for poor children. (Hats off to one circus, by the way, for warding off protesters with PETAKillsAnimals.com signs.)

How does McClellan make sure that her anti-medical-research campaign doesn’t get tied to the anti-circus crazies? Simple: She just tells people to lie about it. In an e-mail McClellan recently sent to fellow activists, the Republic reported, she instructs them to give false names when protesting the circus “because it would be detrimental to the Covance campaign for us to be associated with this protest.” McClellan seems to have quickly forgotten what she told the Republic just last month, when she declared: “I have truth on my side.

Saturday’s Republic further reported that McClellan “also referred supporters to national PETA activists for advice.” The East Valley (AZ) Tribune reports that McClellan’s “Citizens Against Covance first organized after a rally led by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals almost a year ago. Since then, the group said it has distanced itself from that organization.” The Republic article heaps more suspicion on the distance PETA appears to keep from the supposedly “local” group:

Some of the targets of her protests said the e-mail exposes McClellan’s deceptive tactics and unmasks PETA’s aim to mislead and frighten the public.

“We have been saying for a long time that this group was really hiding their actual agenda and trying to create the appearance that they were local citizens,” Covance spokeswoman Camilla Strongin said.