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March 16, 2016

Wounded Warrior Emails Pin Troubles on Media 'Agenda'

In emails to Wounded Warrior Project staff following the firing of two top executives last week, leaders of the embattled veterans charity defended its work and expressed anger over media investigations that plunged the organization into controversy, according to Jacksonville, Fla., TV station WJXT, which obtained the internal communications.

"I was pretty frustrated today because I spent too much time thinking about how a few cowardly individuals and a few lazy reporters with an agenda can damage the public's trust in the great work that you do," Jonathan Sullivan, the Jacksonville-based charity's executive vice president, wrote to employees the day after the organization sacked CEO Steven Nardizzi andchief operating officer Al Giordano.

The nonprofit's board fired the top officers after an internal review of Wounded Warrior's finances, prompted by media reports of lavish spending of donor funds on travel, parties, and conferences. Robert Cohen, a public-relations and crisis-management consultant, criticized the charity's approach to the controversy, saying, "You don't blame the messenger for the bad news."

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article about the upheaval at the Wounded Warrior Project.