Victims advocacy organizations and legal firms managing the cases of those affected by the September 11th terrorist attacks say they have no record of Congressman- elect George Santos’ mother, Fatima Devolder, entering a victims’ compensation claim or participating in any lawsuits related to the attacks.
Santos has repeatedly claimed that his mother, who died of cancer in 2016, was a 9/11 survivor who was “in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001,” and “passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” At one point he claimed that both of his parents had been in the towers the day of the attack.
In a 2021 tweet, Santos repeated the assertion, stating that “9/11 claimed my mothers life.”
Following reports that Santos falsified major aspects of his resume, employment history, and even his own parents and grandparents biographies, the claims regarding his mother’s death may constitute another entry in the future Long Island congressman’s record of dishonesty.
Asked by Rolling Stone for comment and for evidence to corroborate his claims, Santos declined to respond on the record or provide evidence.
Despite Santos’ assertion that his mother worked within the World Trade Center, Rolling Stone could find no employment records that would place Mrs. Devolder in or around the towers on September 11th. According to NBC News, Devolder’s only known employment was a Queens based company that closed in 1994. A New York Times investigation found that Devolder’s main source of income was as a nurse and domestic worker.
Congress created the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund shortly after the attacks with over $7 billion to disperse to those affected by the attacks. The fund allows survivors and the families of victims to access compensation for the loss of their loved ones, as well as for adverse health effects among those who survived the attack, were first responders on the site, or worked at ground zero. Claims can be submitted by family members posthumously.
While many New Yorkers experienced health ramifications following the collapse of the towers, including cancer, various victims advocacy groups and law firms who help facilitate claims to the VCF told Rolling Stone that they were unable to identify any records indicating that Fatima Devolder filed a compensation claim for her health complications.
John Feal, founder and President of the 9-11 first responder victims advocacy organization The FealGood Foundation, told Rolling Stone that neither he nor his contacts within the community of organization providing services to survivors could identify any record of a VCF claim or enrollment in the World Trade Center Health Program for Devolder. “The search was extensive,” Feal tells Rolling Stone.
“He’s lying,” Feal says. “Nobody can verify it.”
“The 9/11 community, while some are Republican and some Democrat, at the end of the day they always usually band together on something like this,” he explains. “There’s a lot of people disgusted by this.”
Several law firms — including Barasch & McGarry, which represents upwards of “25,000 responders, downtown residents, office workers, students, and teachers who have been sickened by the 9/11 toxins” — tells Rolling Stone that Devolder had never been a client.
Individuals seeking to access the VCF are not required to file through a law firm or advocacy organization. Claims are publicly listed for 90 days after which the VCF will not publicly confirm the names of claimants. A review of Devolder’s social media posts by Rolling Stone found no references to the 9/11 attacks, commemorative posts, or references to the cause of her cancer diagnosis in the course of her treatment.
Santos is set to be sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives on Tuesday amid searing controversy regarding various lies and misrepresentations he has made about his resume, education and background.
His claims regarding his mother’s cause of death are not the first time Santos has used his family to bolster his campaign image. He was also revealed to have falsely claimed that his grandparents were Jewish Holocaust survivors who fled Nazi Germany during WWII, and described himself as a “proud American Jew” in campaign documents.
The future Long Island congressman admitted on Monday to having engaged in “résumé embellishment” when he falsely claimed to have worked for major law firms including CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs. He also acknowledged that he had not graduated from Baruch College in New York and New York University.
While Republican party leadership has remained largely silent regarding the controversy, federal investigators have begun to probe to what extent Santos’ falsehoods could potentially constitute criminal conduct. A second investigation has been initiated by Long Island’s Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly, a Republican.
Questions also remain regarding a sudden windfall of cash received by Santos in the years leading up to his 2020 congressional bid, and his successful election in the November midterms. Despite declaring no assets in 2020, by 2022 Santos declared a valuation of millions and was able to lend his campaign a whopping $700,000.
Despite admitting to deceiving the voting public, and facing a barrage of ethics and criminal investigations, Santos insists he will serve his tenure in Congress. “I will be sworn in. I will take office,” he told New York’s WABC radio on Monday.