America’s largest veterans’ charity, the Wounded Warrior Project, has been wracked by power struggles since its CEO was deposed over allegations of serious mismanagement and opulence.
After an initial investigation from CBS News found that the WWP only spent just over half of its donations on actual programs directed at veterans, then-CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano were fired in early March.
CBS News found Wednesday the departure of top executives has given way to power struggles. Now with Nardizzi gone, the original founder of WWP, retired Marine John Melia, has returned to the scene.
Nardizzi reportedly purged Melia from the organization after a disagreement on lavish spending in 2010. Now Melia is back and he thinks more of the leadership needs to step down, specifically Anthony Odierno, the board’s chairman and now interim CEO. While Melia thinks Odierno is honest and generally trustworthy, the fact of the matter is that Odierno was “frankly asleep at the wheel” during Nardizzi’s unhinged spending spree.
But Nardizzi still maintains that allegations aired in the media about WWP spending practices are “grossly exaggerated,” an opinion that was also based on an analysis conducted by a forensic accounting firm on behalf of the board.
“The same board that oversaw these problems, who approved the budget, is the same board trying to fix the problem,” Melia told CBS News.
Odierno currently serves as interim CEO, but does not oversee the day-to-day operations of the charity. Instead, his day job is at a bank in New York.
The board has struck back against Melia’s allegations, saying, “…the Melias are attacking the organization to promote their personal agenda” and their “conduct … is not in keeping with how we wish to do business.”
Melia said he wants to become interim CEO, but the board appears absolutely opposed.
In the meantime, the struggle for America’s largest veterans’ charity will continue, and as a result, the brand is likely to suffer more damage.
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