Even as the controversy surrounding the prolifically mendacious newly-elected congressman from Long Island, George Santos (R-NY), continues to grow — with new deceptions uncovered seemingly every day — another freshman Republican representative, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), has been revealed to have created an equally inventive biography that departs from reality as much as her beleaguered House GOP colleague.
Congresswoman Luna was the subject of an exposé published on Friday by The Washington Post that detailed her transformation from Anna Mayerhofer, an airfield manager at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri —who described herself as “alternately Middle Eastern, Jewish, or Eastern European” and supported Barack Obama — to become Anna Paulina Luna and switch her last name and self-identified ethnicity to reflect her mother’s Mexican heritage and embrace a gun-celebrating right-wing ideology as a Florida Republican candidate for the House of Representatives.
As a candidate, Luna told stories of her upbringing in “low-income” Southern California neighborhoods with a drug-addicted father cycling in and out of prison.
She also regaled her audience with tales of surviving a home invasion while in the Air Force in Missouri.
The friends and family of Luna’s who were contacted by The Washington Post had substantially different recollections of her past than the newly-elected representative did.
“Her roommate in Missouri had no recollection of the “home invasion” Luna detailed, describing instead a break-in at their shared apartment when they were not home, an incident confirmed by police records,” the newspaper reported.
The roommate, Brittany Brooks, shared the apartment with Mayerhofer, as she was then named, for six months and considered her a close friend during their military service.
Brooks shared her perception of her roommate as having a chameleon-like personality with the writers of the Post article:
“She would really change who she was based on what fit the situation best at the time.”
While Luna campaigned on a life story of overcoming financial hardships and a broken family, her relatives tell a different story.
“The whole family kind of raised her — my dad was a part of her life when she was younger and we all kind of coddled her,” said her slightly-younger first cousin, Nicole Mayerhofer. “She was always a part of everything, all these family gatherings and activities.”
“She had everything. What she needed and more,” said Nichole’s mother, Jolanta Mayerhofer.
While exaggerating the hardships of her youth hardly rises to the levels of the types of lies that George Santos told about his education and career experience, Luna’s claims about her father’s prison record have raised many questions since The Washington Post did a deep dive into California incarceration records.
“The Post was not able to locate any public records of felony charges or prison sentences for George Mayerhofer in California, where Luna lived at the time. A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections said they had no records that he served time in state facilities,” the newspaper reported.
Luna’s sudden embrace of her Hispanic heritage and her decision to adopt her mother’s maiden name came as a surprise to the people who knew her from the Air Force where she did not refer to herself as a Latina and pronounced her first name in the Anglicized version rather than the Spanish pronunciation she now uses.
“’At Whiteman, we had different organizations for different groups and we did have an active Hispanic population on base — she wasn’t part of that,’ said Katie West, who served at the same time as Luna at Whiteman Air Force Base. ‘I know that for sure because I had a lot of friends who were part of that. She’s kind of leaning into that now but that was news to me,’” The Washington Post wrote.
Luna’s Air Force acquaintances also described the person they knew as mostly apolitical, but primarily a liberal supporter of then-President Barack Obama
The Florida congresswoman’s turn to right-wing politics began when she came to the attention of Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk after she posted some online comments on human trafficking and gun rights.
Kirk wound up hiring her as his group’s director of Hispanic engagement, the start of the then-Mayerhofer’s change from identifying as “White, not of Hispanic origin” — as she registered to vote in Florida in 2015 — to changing her name to Luna and registering as Hispanic in 2019.
Luna even seems to have embraced the same type of deception about her religious upbringing as Geroge Santos did.
While she identifies herself as Christian, she told the publication Jewish Insider that she was “raised as a Messianic Jew by her father.”
“However, three members of Luna’s extended family said that her father was Catholic, and that they were not aware of him practicing any form of Judaism while Luna was growing up, The Post discovered.
In fact, one relative revealed that Luna’s paternal grandfather, Heinrich Mayerhofer, actually served in Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Wehrmacht during World War II.
Since joining Congress as a member of the ultra-right-wing GOP Freedom Caucus, Luna has fit right in with the most extreme members of the Republican majority in the House.
“Since her election to Congress, Luna has drawn attention for declining to attend a White House reception for new House members because of the event’s covid-19 protocols, arguing in favor of allowing House members to carry firearms to committee meetings and accusing a reporter of sexually harassing her after he asked her questions while she left her office in the U.S. Capitol in January,” The Washington Post detailed.
Luna’s record of deceptions hasn’t yet earned nearly the attention that the campaign lies of her GOP colleague George Santos have drawn.
No one is yet calling for her expulsion from Congress for her misleading biographical information.
Then again her campaign fundraising hasn’t been examined to the extent that Santos has had his FEC reports dissected.
Given her apparent history of fabulism, perhaps someone should start to take a look at where her donations came from and whether her lack of truthfulness extends to the areas that could invite a serious criminal investigation
Original reporting by Jacqueline Alemany and Alice Crites at The Washington Post.
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