Senator Requests Further Information from Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) has received a lot of attention about its spending, which has caused some donors to abandon their support of the charity and its board to fire its CEO and chief operating officer, even after the board defended its past expenditures that some deemed excessive.
Now, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who serves as chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked Anthony Odierno, WWP's board chair and interim CEO, to provide spending data not available in tax filings.
Due to his concern of the alleged questionable spending practices that conflict with the mission to aid veterans, Grassley met with former CEO Steven Nardizzi before his firing, Grassley said in his March 18 letter to Odierno.
"In that meeting, we were assured that WWP was allocating its donation income appropriately towards serving veterans," he said. "However, significant questions remain as to whether or not WWP is properly performing its side of the bargain for veterans and taxpayers alike."
He rattled off recent allegations, such as spending $26 million on employee conferences, paying $970,000 for its annual staff meeting and being hostile to former employees who speak about the nonprofit's past spending.
"If true, these allegations are a breach of faith with donors, taxpayers, and, more importantly, veterans," Grassley said.
He asked Odierno to comply with eight detailed requests, including specifics on 2013 and 2014 conferences; a breakdown of how donations are spent on programs and services; a copy of its whistleblower and retaliation policy; a list of first- and business-class plane ticket purchases; reasoning for and costs of its lobbying and public relation efforts; and a description of its relationship with Charity Defense Council (due to a possible conflict of interest donation to the organization).
Grassley requested the answers by April 4 in addition to a meeting between WWP and his staff to discuss the answers and WWP's future plan.
WWP is not legally obligated to comply, but Grassley's office has been successful with getting nonprofits, like the American Red Cross and The Nature Conservancy, to respond to inquiries in the past, according to The New York Times. WWP also told the newspaper that it planned to cooperate.