'Nobody Can Verify' Santos' Claims on Mom's 9/11 Death

She died in 2016 and there's no evidence she ever applied for compensation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2022 8:41 AM CST
George Santos' Claims About Mom's 9/11 Death Doubted
Rep.-elect George Santos speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Some are now questioning whether George Santos exaggerated—or possibly outright lied—about the death of his own mother. In a tweet Wednesday, journalist Yashar Ali drew attention to two tweets from Santos in 2021, one that said 9/11 claimed his mother's life and another that reflected on the fifth anniversary of her 2016 death, which took place some 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, the Washington Post reports. According to the US representative elect's campaign website, his mother "was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded" and "she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer."

While cancer has killed many 9/11 survivors, Rolling Stone reports that legal firms and advocacy groups have no record of Santos' mother, Fatima Devolder, ever filing a compensation claim or taking part in any lawsuits related to the attacks. "Nobody can verify it," John Feal, founder of the Fealgood Foundation victims' advocacy group, tells the magazine. "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," Feal says. "There’s a lot of people disgusted by this." Rolling Stone says it was unable to find any evidence that Devolder ever worked in or near the World Trade Center.

According to NBC, public employment records show only one employer for Santos' mother, an imports company in Queens that closed in 1994. A claim that she worked as a financial executive has been removed from Santos' website. In a 2021 interview, Santos claimed his mother didn't apply for relief because she didn't want to take money away from first responders, CNN notes.

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The Republican, who is due to take office on Tuesday despite admitting to numerous lies about his background, is also facing questions about campaign spending, reports the New York Times. Filings show that while he was running for the Long Island seat, Santos used $40,000 in campaign funds for air travel and $30,000 to stay at high-end hotels in states including Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Florida, California, Kansas, and Michigan. (Santos is being investigated by Long Island prosecutors.)

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