On the heels of first-term New York Rep. George Santos allegedly lying about his life story to get elected, another new Republican representative appears to have made up critical aspects of her background. Like Santos, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) is accused of lying about having Jewish heritage and other parts of her story.
The Washington Post recently published a story examining Luna’s life and finding inconsistencies, possible exaggerations and apparent falsehoods. Most egregiously, the report questions Luna’s claim that she was “raised as a Messianic Jew by her father.” Messianic Jews view themselves as Jewish but hold the Christian view of Jesus as the Messiah and are often closely identified with Evangelical Christianity. The Pew Center identifies Luna as the only current member of Congress to identify with this movement. In addition, Luna claimed she is “also a small fraction Ashkenazi,” referring to the subset of ethnically Jewish people who trace their ancestry to central Europe.
However, the Post article cites several of Luna’s family members as stating her father identified as Catholic, and none of them remember him engaging in Judaism. Furthermore, his father was a Catholic who moved to Canada from Germany after having fought for the military of Nazi Germany. However, he is not known to have identified as a Nazi.
Author and human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid noted the hypocrisy of Republicans removing Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee and citing comments she made in the past but ignoring Santos’ and Luna’s falsehoods and the latter’s alleged Nazi family ties.
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. https://t.co/qaxiKywovg
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) February 10, 2023
The Post article points to other apparent exaggerations or inconsistencies in Luna’s background.
For example, she claims to have been raised by a single mother with little support from extended family or her father, who she and her mother claim was often imprisoned for various crimes. But relatives claim Luna received extensive support from other family members, and the Post could not find records of her father being incarcerated in Orange County, Florida, where they lived. Furthermore, though Luna has repeated a harrowing story of surviving a traumatic late-night “home invasion,” Luna’s former roommate and police reports of the incident indicate there was a break-in while she was not home.
The extra scrutiny given to Luna’s background comes after Santos’ apparent lies and exaggerations were unnoticed until just before he took office. For example, Luna’s claim of being Jewish is very reminiscent of similar claims made by Santos; when his ethnic and religious background was called into question, he amazingly clarified that he had claimed to be “Jew-ish” rather than Jewish. And both Luna, who has emphasized her Mexican American heritage, and Brazilian American Santos have gained prominence as Republicans from minority groups who espouse far-right conservative views.
Both Luna and Santos, for instance, recently wore AR-15 lapel pins in Congress even as debates about gun control continue amid multiple mass shootings across the United States.
With Republicans continuing to stretch or bend the truth even as they attempt to push through an ultra-conservative agenda through their slim House majority, politicians like Luna and Santos will continue under scrutiny. What will be the ultimate fallout from their apparent efforts to misrepresent themselves to their colleagues and the voting public remains to be seen.