The top two executives at the prominent veterans charity Wounded Warrior Project have been fired amid allegations of extravagant spending on themselves and their employees.
The board of directors fired chief executive officer Steven Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano Thursday after an independent review found "some policies, procedures and controls at WWP have not kept pace with the organization’s rapid growth in recent years and are in need of strengthening," according to a statement from the nonprofit sent to NBC News.
The charity, one of the largest in the nation for veterans, has been mired in controversy since January, when a CBS News investigation found many of its donations were going toward employees: $26 million on company conferences in 2014 alone, according to CBS News.
Of the millions of dollars in donations received each year by Wounded Warrior Project, just 54 to 60 percent actually goes to vets, CBS News reported. The rest goes to overhead — air travel, luxury resorts, and over-the-top parties. Other veterans charities have overhead costs that don't exceed 10 or 15 percent, CBS said.
Wounded Warrior Project denied those numbers in its statement, which was sent to NBC News from PR firm Abernathy MacGregor. It said a preliminary financial audit indicates 80 percent of its budget went to vets.
Employees told CBS News spending skyrocketed once Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009, citing a 2014 annual company meeting held at a Colorado Springs luxury resort.
"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 former employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CBS.
The nonprofit said Thursday it has already put policies in place that will cut down on employee expenses, such as having employees fly economy class.
Nonetheless, it added, "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, and WWP CEO Steve Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano are no longer with the organization."
Anthony Odierno, the nonprofit's chairman, will serve as interim CEO, it said.