The chief executive officer and chief operating officer of a prominent veterans charity, the Wounded Warrior Project, have been fired by its board of directors after a CBS News investigation raised questions about how the organization spends the millions of dollars it raises every year from generous donors. CEO Steven Nardizzi and Chief Operating Officer Al Giordano were both fired following criticism from more than 40 employees.
The employees alleged that Nardizzi and Giordano were at the helm when over-the-top expenditures were made with the $800 million that the group raised in the past four years. Those expenses included items like costly staff retreats, and veterans were denied programs in the process, according to CBS News.
The decision to fire the two heads of Wounded Warrior was made Thursday afternoon after the board met in New York and following preliminary results of an audit of the organization’s expenditures. The board is reportedly discussing bringing in retired senior military officials to fill the two vacancies.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 10, 2016
The earlier CBS News investigation that unearthed the lavish expenditures noted that the Wounded Warrior Project spends far less of a percentage of their overall budget on veteran programs compared to similar charities. The organization spends just 60 percent of its budget on veteran programs, compared to organizations like Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust (96 percent) and Fisher House (91 percent).
“Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn't see is how they spend their money,” Erick Millette, an Army veteran who once worked for the charity but quit after two years, said at the time.
Millette described some of the staff spending, saying, for example, that Mexican mariachi bands and custom maracas were brought in to promote "team building" when they were, perhaps, unnecessary.