A major donor to the Wounded Warrior Project veterans’ charity called Thursday for the nonprofit’s CEO to resign in light of allegations of lavish spending on staff meetings, according to a CBS News report.
Fred and Dianne Kane, the parents of two Iraq War veterans, have donated $325,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project since 2009 through their personal charity, Tee-off for a Cause.
Slightly more than half of the Kanes' donations directly benefitted veterans, according to CBS News.
But after recent tax forms reflected questionable spending by the veterans’ charity on staff expenditures, including $26 million on conferences and meetings at luxury hotels in 2014 alone, Fred Kane called for CEO Steven Nardizzi to be fired.The expenditure on conferences and travel was up from just $1.7 million in 2010, according to reports.
“Hearing that there was this waste of money, donor dollars that should have been going to servicemen and women that were injured, and that it was spent on [Wounded Warrior Project staff] having a good time—it’s a real disappointment,” Dianne Kane told CBS News.
The Kanes also initiated an online petition calling for a public audit of the Wounded Warrior Project in addition to canceling the next golf tournament Tee-off for a Cause was to hold to benefit the Project.
In January, Charity Navigator, a group that oversees nonprofit organizations, placed Wounded Warrior Project on its watch list, Fox News reported, citing a separate CBS report.
Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette, who returned from Iraq in 2006 with a bronze star and a purple heart, told CBS News at the time that he admired the charity’s work and took a job with the group in 2014 but quit after two years.
"Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn't see is how they spend their money," he said.
Millette said he witnessed lavish spending on staff, with big “catered” parties.
Also in the previous interview, two former employees, who were so fearful of retaliation they asked that CBS News not show their faces on camera, said spending has skyrocketed since Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009, pointing to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs.
"He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. He's come in on a Segway, he's come in on a horse,” one employee told CBS News.
Fred Kaine, in the recent interview, questioned Nardizzi’s apparent public absence while his organization has been under scrutiny.
“Where is this guy? You lead from the front—good or bad—you don’t hide,” he said, “If no one is going to talk about this right now and it has to be me, then it has to be me.”
Kane said he has cut charitable ties with the Wounded Warrior Project, embarking on a new charge to effect change at the organization.