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EXCLUSIVE Wounded Warriors Scandal Was Worse Than Thought: As Donations, Grants Dropped by Millions, Salaries Skyrocketed

Here’s an update on the Wounded Warriors Project. They’ve been advertising pretty heavily on TV this week, so I wanted to catch up from their huge scandals from two years ago.

Back in 2015, the Daily Beast launched a stream of stories revealing crazy spending at the Wounded Warriors Project. By January 2016, both the New York Times and CBS published their own exposes that caused even more investigations. In March 2016, Wounded Warriors’ top executives Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano were forced to resign.

But back in March 2016, the extent of the Wounded Warriors’ spending on salaries was not fully known. Everyone was working off of data from 2014-2015. It wasn’t until April 2017 that the group filed its Form 990 for 2015-2016. Now it’s become available and we can see what was really going on in the last year before most of the leadership was excised.

First: donations to Wounded Warriors fell by $70 million from 2015 to 2016. So WW cut their spending– not to themselves, but to the people who needed their money most. Grants to veterans’ groups fell precipitously– by over $50 million. The group cut its grants from $87 million to $35 million. That’s a dizzying drop. It surely must have been for veterans’ groups depending on donations.

Despite the incredible drop in giving, and in revenue, total Wounded Warriors salaries didn’t go down,  they went up– and rose over $6 million in 2015-2016.

When Steven Nardizzi was fired in March 2016, his listed salary from the prior year was $474,000. That number reflected a $100,000 increase from the prior year.

The newer filing, however, shows Nardizzi had given himself another $100,000+ increase-– to a whopping $604,551.

We also now know that Nardizzi’s partner in crime, Al Giordano, also ousted in March 2016, left making $420,905. In that Form 990, issued April 2017, five executives were making over $300,00 a year. Another half dozen were making over $200,000 a year.

We won’t know until next April what the new leadership and staff are making — or spending. But at least they know now that people are watching Wounded Warrior Project more closely than ever.

PS Want to make some last minute charitable contributions? My favorites: The Rainforest Foundation, Rosie’s Theatre Kids, Elton John AIDS Foundation, MusiCares, RUSH Philanthropic, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research, TJ Martell (in memory of Tony Martell), We Are Family Foundation, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, Coalition for the Homeless, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Salvation Army (in memory of Phil Ramone).