Sen. Grassley releases report on Wounded Warrior Project spending

WASHINGTON -- Last year, CBS News met Erick Millette, one of dozens of former employees who shared concerns about Wounded Warrior Project's spending and programs for veterans.

"You're using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties," Millette said in January last year.

Sen. Chuck Grassley led an inquiry into the allegations. 

"You want to make sure that people that contribute money, that it's used for what it was meant to be used for," he said.

The charity had said it spent 80 cents of each donor dollar on programs for veterans, but Grassley says that included donated media, advertisements and "educational" fundraising solicitations to reach that number.

And Grassley's nearly 500-page report to the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees found Wounded Warrior Project was spending only about 68 percent of donor dollars on programs for veterans.

It also found the charity:

  • lacked "sufficient policies and procedures to manage the organization..."
  • misled donors about more than $65 million placed in a long-term trust that had not yet been spent on veterans.
  • spent "excessive amounts" of money on travel, as well as fundraising and staff events.

CEO Steven Nardizzi was fired last year, along with nearly the entire executive suite of the charity.

"I think it's going to help in the long run to deliver exactly what the program ought to do for veterans," Grassley said.

In a statement, Wounded Warrior Project said it follows "accounting rules and IRS requirements" and has "made significant changes to ensure that we are focused on running the most efficient, effective organization possible." 

It also says it updated its travel and expense policies and adjusted its programs and services to focus on mental health and long-term support.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.