The prominent veterans charity Wounded Warrior Project has fired their top two executives, Chief executive officer Steven Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano, amid reports of irregular and lavish spending. According to reports, the two executives were spending large amounts of the charity's money on themselves and their employees.
The charity has been no stranger to controversy since the beginning of the year when CBS News came forward with reports that “many of its donations were going toward employees.” In fact, the investigation claims to have found that $26 million went to company conferences in 2014 alone.
Even more disturbing, reports claim that only “54 to 60 percent actually goes to vets,” while the rest “goes to overhead — air travel, luxury resorts, and over-the-top parties.” To put this into perspective, CBS News found that other charities only give 10 to 15 percent of the donations to the overhead.
However, many employees of the Wounded Warrior Project saw a huge increase in spending as soon as Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009. One anonymous employee even told CBS News about an annual company meeting in 2014 that took place at a luxury retreat in Colorado Springs.
"Let's get a Mexican mariachi band in there, let's get maracas made with the WWP logo put them on every staff member's desk. Let’s get it catered, have a big old party," said Eric Millette, a retired army staff sergeant who took a job with Wounded Warrior as a motivational speaker.
He explained, however, that he quit after two years when he witnessed the lavish spending: "I'll be damned if you're gonna take hard-working Americans' money and drink it and waste it, instead of helping those brave men and women who gave you the freedom to walk the face of this earth."
Nardizzi has previously defended the charity's spending, saying, "If your only fixation is spending the most on programs, that's feeling good, but not necessarily doing good," he said.
The charity claims that they have already put provisions in place to cut down on costs and ensure that this doesn’t happen again, such as making their employees fly coach.
"[T]o best effectuate these changes and help restore trust in the organization among all of the constituencies WWP serves, the Board determined the organization would benefit from new leadership, and WWP CEO Steve Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano are no longer with the organization,” the charity said in a statement on Thursday.
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