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March 10, 2016

Wounded Warrior Project Fires Top Executives

Steven Nardizzi

Wounded Warrior Project, the country’s largest veterans charity, fired its top two executives Thursday, nearly two months after allegations surfaced about excessive spending on parties, travel, and conferences.

The organization announced that chief executive Steven Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano were let go after trustees received preliminary results of a financial and policy audit commissioned amid allegations of overspending on travel and executive pay.

In a statement, the nonprofit’s board of directors said Mr. Nardizzi and Mr. Giordano “are no longer with the organization” and that it had determined that the Wounded Warrior Project “would benefit from new leadership.”

The statement, which offered few specifics as to why the two were fired, said some polices and controls had not kept pace with the large growth of the organization in recent years but noted that the nonprofit was starting to strengthen its policies regarding travel and expenses.

“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,” the statement said.

The nonprofit has created an “Office of the CEO,” led by board chair Anthony Odierno, that will manage the group as it conducts a nationwide search to replace Mr. Nardizzi, according to the statement.

It also detailed the findings of an independent review, which mostly cleared the nonprofit of wrongdoing and challenged the accusations made by CBS News and The New York Times, which released back-to-back news reports in January detailing the nonprofit’s alleged overspending, including a $3 million conference for employees held in Colorado.

The Daily Beast, citing unnamed “whistle-blowers,” reported Thursday that Wounded Warrior had a $250,000 budget for candy and soda and spent heavily on mandatory staff field trips and videos extolling Mr. Nardizzi and other executives.

The Times piece also included interviews with former employees who felt they were fired for minor offenses or disloyalty.

The firings were first reported by CBS News.