The board of the Wounded Warrior Project, one of the largest veteran support organizations in the country, has fired the nonprofit’s chief executive officer and the chief operating officer, according to a statement released by a public relations firm on behalf of the embattled organization.
The departure of two top executives, CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano, comes at a time when the wounded veteran-focused organization is awash in controversy amid news reports accusing the group of wasteful spending.
The statement by the PR firm, Abernathy MacGregor, said a preliminary financial audit found that “some policies, procedures and controls at WWP have not kept pace with the organization’s rapid growth in recent years and are in need of strengthening.”
According to Wounded Warrior Project tax forms obtained by a CBS News investigation, the organization spent $26 million on conferences and meetings in 2014, up from $1.7 million in 2010.
The CBS report also talked to numerous former employees that accused the organization of making money off their injuries.
According to the charity watchdog, “Charity Navigator,” Wounded Warrior Project only spends 60 percent of its budget on veterans. However, according to the recent release, the preliminary finacial audit indicates that the organization spends 80 percent. The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, on the other hand, provides more than 98 percent to veterans. Charity Navigator also assessed that Wounded Warrior’s total revenue for 2014 was well over $340 million.
One former employee told CBS News that how Wounded Warrior Project spends its money is the equivalent of “what the military calls fraud, waste and abuse.”
In the wake of the reports, Wounded Warrior Project issued a statement attacking them as false and accusing CBS of not contacting the chair of the Wounded Warrior Project’s audit committee prior to running their story. The organization also took to social media, responding to numerous concerns and attacks on its Facebook page.
The PR statement issued on behalf of Wounded Warrior Project on Thursday addressed these allegations and noted that the nonprofit had begun to implement policies that would better the organization, such as cutting down travel expenses by having its employees fly only economy class.
“To 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 statement said.
In the interim, the board has established an office of the CEO that will be helmed by the organization’s chairman, Anthony Odierno. According to the statement, the office of the CEO as well as other senior members in the company will search for a new CEO immediately.