Republican congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna has said she was raised as a messianic Jew and has Jewish roots, but her extended family refuted the claims and said her grandfather apparently fought on behalf of Nazi Germany, the Washington Post reported Friday.
Luna is the first Mexican-American to represent Flordia. The report also raised questions about some other details of her past such as her claims of a deprived childhood and that she was the victim of a burglary in the middle of the night when at home.
While campaigning for her seat in Congress, Luna, 33, told Jewish Insider in November that although she identifies as Christian, she was raised by her father as a messianic Jew.
Messianic Judaism is a movement that combines Jewish tradition and practice with the belief that Jesus Christ is the coming messiah. It is considered outside the fold by all mainstream Jewish denominations, who say the ideology directly contradicts many of the religion’s principal tenets. Some Messianic Jews want the movement to be accepted as a sect of Judaism, and view it as such. They often have ties to explicitly Christian organizations.
Luna, who says her father George Mayerhofer was a drug addict, told the Insider at the time “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi” referring to Jews whose ancestors come from Central or Eastern Europe.
Her mother, Monica Luna, backed up the claims telling the Washington Post that Mayerhofer “got clean and started attending a messianic Jewish church in Orange County. He brought Anna to services and she buried him to Jewish customs.”
However, members of her extended family told the Post that Luna’s father was Catholic and that they had never heard of him embracing any form of Judaism. Her grandfather, Heinrich Mayerhofer, moved to Canada from Germany in 1954 and his immigration record, seen by the Post, identified him as Roman Catholic.
In addition, several members of Luna’s extended family said that, as a teenager in the 1940s, Heinrich Mayerhofer fought in the army of Nazi Germany. One of his sons, Edward Mayerhofer, Luna’s uncle, gave the Washington Post a photo of Heinrich in a Wehrmacht uniform. Experts from the Simon Wiesenthal Center confirmed to the Post that the uniform appeared to be authentic. Edward’s wife Jolanta, and daughter, Nicole, both told the Post that Luna’s grandfather fought for Nazi Germany.
Jolanta said that Heinrich would explain that he had no choice but to join the Geman army.
Nicole Mayerhofer told the Post that Luna became estranged from her uncle Edward after he pointed out inconsistencies in her biography during her first attempt to enter Congress. In 2020 Luna took out an injunction for stalking against her uncle, according to the report.
Other inconsistencies the Post reported included a claim by Luna, who backs the right to bear arms, that while serving in the US Air Force her home was broken into in the middle of the night. However, her roommate at the time told the Post it was a daylight break-in that happened when neither of them was at home. The roommate’s version matches a police report of the incident.
In addition, though Luna has claimed her father spent time in prison and that his incarceration was a key factor in shaping her childhood in California, there is no record of George Mayerhofer being sent to prison in the state, according to the report.
The Post said that Luna’s office did not initially respond to requests for information while a communications director for the lawmaker told the newspaper that its questions were “bizarre.”
After the publication of the report, Luna issued a statement via her attorney that “the Washington Post has clearly showcased, anyone who is a conservative minority is a threat to Leftist control. They can try to discredit me, but unfortunately for them, the facts completely blow their story out of the water.”
The alleged revelations came after in December another Republican lawmaker, George Santos, was forced to walk back claims that he was Jewish. In the weeks that followed, reports found that Santos had apparently fabricated other elements of his resume.