Anna Paulina Luna Slammed Over Report She Lied About Being Jewish

Representative Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican, faced criticism online Friday after a report revealed that she was not raised Jewish, according to some of her family members, despite previously claiming Jewish heritage.

This past November, Luna, who identifies as Christian, told Jewish Insider days before the midterm elections that she was "raised as a Messianic Jew" by her father. Messianic Jews believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

At the time, she was defending Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, over past comments that some viewed as antisemitic.

"I am also a small fraction [of] Ashkenazi. If she [Greene] were antisemitic, why did she endorse me?" Luna asked the publication.

Anna Paulina Luna Slammed Over Report She-lied-about-being-Jewish
Representative Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican, leaves the U.S. Capitol on February 2 in Washington, D.C. Luna faced online criticism on Friday after a recent report revealed that she was not raised Jewish, according to some of her family members, despite previously claiming Jewish heritage. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The details in a Friday report by The Washington Post contradicted Luna's previous claims of Jewish heritage. Luna's mother, Monica Luna, said that the Republican's father George Mayerhofer—who Luna and other family members said was a drug addict—was a Christian who embraced the Messianic faith.

"He eventually got clean and started attending a messianic Jewish church in Orange County. He brought Anna to services and she buried him to Jewish customs," Monica Luna said, according to the Post.

However, Luna's father was Catholic, according to three members of Luna's extended family who said that they were not aware of him practicing any form of Judaism while the Florida congresswoman was growing up.

But, Luna's spokesperson Edie Heipel told Newsweek on Saturday that the family members that the Post cited are the congresswoman's "estranged family members."

"The sources WAPO used made bizarre claims and we find it ironic this is one of their sources. We don't take anything they say seriously and Rep. Luna doesn't associate with them as they are estranged family members – Rep. Luna's mother has also confirmed this," Luna's spokesperson said.

Mayerhofer's father, Heinrich Mayerhofer, identified as a Roman Catholic. He immigrated from Germany to Canada in 1954, according to records viewed by the newspaper.

"Anna Paulina Luna is a fraud. The media won't need to dig deep. Next, look into the claimed hit on her life by REPUBLICAN primary opponents. She may be worse than [New York Republican Representative George] Santos," said gun control activist Fred Guttenberg on Friday.

Additionally, the report by the Post further revealed that Luna reportedly had Nazi roots, with several family members saying that Heinrich Mayerhofer, who died in 2003, served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany when he was a teenager in the 1940s.

Luna's uncle, Edward Mayerhofer, gave the newspaper what he said was a picture of his father Heinrich dressed in a uniform as a young soldier in Germany. The photo was reviewed by experts at the Simon Wiesenthal Center who confirmed that Heinrich's uniform matched that of a member of the Wehrmacht, the military of Nazi Germany.

"I'll be honest, even I didn't have 'grandkid of an actual Nazi' on my House GOP bingo card for 2023," MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan said of the details in the Post's report.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid said, "Republicans removed Rep Ilhan Omar from committee due to 'antisemitism.' Meanwhile, now two GOP reps have claimed they were Jewish, when in reality they were not, and in this case Luna is literally a Nazi's granddaughter -- and total acceptance from GOP."

"Republican Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna claimed to have Jewish roots, appearing to lie about her father's religion. It turns out her grandfather Heinrich Mayerhofer actually served in the German Nazi army during World War II," wrote political podcast host Brian Tyler Cohen.

Luna's spokesperson also told Newsweek that "it is very unfortunate that they're trying to make that connection, but the reality is Rep. Luna is a strong supporter of Israel, and whatever connection they're trying to make is irrelevant."

The congresswoman's spokesperson added that Luna's two maternal great-grandfathers "fought in WWII for the Americans," and shared a picture of one of them in uniform as well as a copy of an article by the Arizona Daily Star that dated back to 1952 that reported on Luna's great-grandfather's history.

Heipel said that one of Luna's great-grandfathers, William Todd, was enlisted in the Arizona National Guard to serve with the Bushmasters in New Guinea and the Trobriand Islands between 1943 and 1948.

Rep. Luna's family heritage
Representative Anna Paulina Luna's great-grandfather, William Todd, dressed in uniform during World War II. Representative Anna Paulina Luna's office

Still, some Twitter users continued to criticize Luna and compared her claims to that of Representative George Santos, a New York Republican.

"Move over, george! there's another fake republican jew in congress—and this one has actual nazi ties. Meet rep. anna paulina luna of florida," MSNBC writer Marisa Kabas said.

In December, Santos told the New York Post that he lied about several aspects in his past such as his college degree and his religious affiliations. Santos has since faced calls to resign.

"I'm embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume," Santos said. "I never claimed to be Jewish....I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was 'Jew-ish.'"

Update 2/11/2023, 3:13 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include comments from Representative Luna's spokesperson.