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Ground Zero volunteer accepts George Santos’ State of the Union invite

A New York first responder who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11 accepted an invitation to President Biden’s State of the Union address from disgraced Rep. George Santos — who’s been accused of falsely claiming his mom died in the terror attack.

Santos announced Monday that he will be joined at the Tuesday night presidential address by guest Michael Weinstock, a former volunteer firefighter and EMT assigned to the “bucket brigade” that worked to look for survivors of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Weinstock, now a lawyer, claims he developed neuropathy – a neurological condition commonly referred to as the “suicide disease” because of the unbearable pain it causes – as a result of his exposure to dust and toxins in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

In 2021, Santos (R-NY) said in a Twitter post that “9/11 claimed my mother’s life,” despite records reportedly indicating that his mother was in Brazil during the calamity.

Weinstock hopes his appearance at the Capitol Building will raise awareness about first responders suffering from neuropathy as a result of 9/11. 

Ground Zero first responder Michael Weinstock will be joining embattled Rep. George Santos at President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Michael Weinstock

“It is an honor to attend President Biden’s State of the Union and I am greatly appreciative that Congressman Santos invited me as his guest. I have travelled to Washington to bring attention to firefighters with neuropathy. This is an issue that transcends politics and speaks to my heart,” said Weinstock, according to a press release from the Long Island Republican.  

“I am a proud Democrat and Congressman Santos is equally proud to be a member of the GOP.  Tonight, however, we speak with a unified voice, and we encourage the World Trade Center Health Program to include neuropathy as a ‘covered condition,’” he added.

Weinstock told shock jock Howard Stern last month that Santos had phoned him to express concern about his painful, incurable illness, saying,  “Are you feeling suicidal? And if you ever did, would you tell me?” 

Santos previously said that “9/11 claimed my mother’s life — despite records showing she was not in the country at the time of the attacks.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The anecdote prompted the SiriusXM radio show host to reluctantly call it a ”lovely story,” and note that Santos was “very compassionate” in that exchange with Weinstock.

In 2016, the same year Weinstock was diagnosed with neuropathy, Santos’ mother, Fatima Devolder, died of cancer, which Santos has claimed was caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

The Republican’s 2022 House campaign website claimed that Devolder “was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events of September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.”

Weinstock is a former volunteer firefighter and EMT assigned to the "bucket brigade" that searched for survivors.
Weinstock is a former volunteer firefighter and EMT assigned to the “bucket brigade” that searched for survivors.
Michael Weinstock
Weinstock with Hillary Clinton at Ground Zero.
Weinstock with Hillary Clinton at Ground Zero.
Michael Weinstock


A previous version of Santos’ website reportedly claimed that his mother worked as a financial executive, but public employment records obtained by NBC News indicated that her sole listed employer was an imports company in Queens that went out of business in 1994. She reportedly made her living as a housekeeper and home aide.

Immigration records obtained by The Forward last month show that Devolder was in her native Brazil for the entirety of 2001 and could not have been working in Lower Manhattan on 9/11.

In a press release on Monday, Santos said he is “grateful” Weinstock accepted his invite and indicated that he will work to get the World Trade Center Health Program to cover neuropathy for 9/11 first responders.

“I am honored to be attending my first State of the Union Address and to hear the President defend his abysmal policies that continue to hurt our country,” Santos said.

Weinstock hopes going to the State of the Union will raise awareness for first responders who suffer from neuropathy due to 9/11.
Michael Weinstock

“Most importantly, I am grateful for Michael to join me as my guest, but also united in our quest to address the issue of the World Trade Center Health Program to cover neuropathy for the men & women who suffer as a result from the dust that came from the World Trade Center. Michael’s story is one of heroism, but also one as a survivor who is advocating not just for himself but for fellow firefighters, and medical emergency responders,” he added. 

Last month, a former construction worker who lost his foot while working at Ground Zero called on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to disavow Santos over the apparent lies about his mother being a victim of 9/11.

“There is no place in Congress for George Santos,” John Feal told The Post. “He needs to be in a mental institution. He is now an international security risk.”

“The people of [Santos’] district deserve better,” he added. “It’s not just the 9/11 community [impacted by his lies] — it’s the American people.”

“I pray that leadership, that Kevin McCarthy finds that last ounce of dignity and does the right thing,” Feal also told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in January. “And I don’t think that will happen.”