Jeb Bush Promises To Police Scandal-Ridden Veterans’ Charities Like Wounded Warrior Project

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush promised at the Republican debate Thursday if he became president, he will crack down on scandal-ridden veterans’ charities like the Wounded Warrior Project.

In response to a question from Fox News moderator Bret Baier, Bush said he will take action on the “state, local and federal level” to ensure these sorts of charities used donor funds appropriately. Bush also pledged that his first duty as president will be to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs and used part of his speech to criticize the department for handing out bonuses.

“People died, and only three people have been fired,” Bush said. “I will make sure that we fire the sheer incompetence inside the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Veterans have become a main fixture of GOP political rhetoric. Thursday evening was no exception. Instead of appearing on the debate hosted by Fox News, candidate Donald Trump held his own event to raise money for veterans. The event ended up bringing in $5 million dollars. He then added $1 million from his account to make it $6 million, which will now be distributed to 22 different veteran groups.

“You know, my whole theme is make America great again and that’s what we’re going to do — and we wouldn’t have even been here if it weren’t for our vets,” Trump said, according to CNN.

A recent CBS News investigation savaged the Wounded Warrior Project for reportedly only spending 60 percent of its massive budget on veterans. The brand name charity has brought in $1 billion since 2003 and $300 million in 2014 alone.

CBS News interviewed dozens of former employees as the massive charity, finding a consistent dissatisfaction with the direction the organization has taken in the last few years. Former employees allege it spends an inordinate amount of on lavish events at luxurious locations. Some of those expenses include hotel rooms that cost $500 a night and business-class flight tickets for routine trips.

“Donors don’t want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. Donors don’t want you to fly every staff member once a year to some five-star resort and whoop it up and call it team building,” former employee Army Staff Sgt. Erick Millette told CBS News.

In 2010, only $1.7 million of donor funds were allocated to conferences and meetings, but in 2014, that figure skyrocketed to $26 million. Some employees point to the addition of CEO Steven Nardizzi in 2009 as one of the reasons for the shift.

The Wounded Warrior Project is also known for its litigious history, suing anything and everything that may violate its intellectual property, essentially forcing smaller veterans’ charities to spend their limited funds on legal defense rather than veterans.

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