The Wounded Warrior Project, a charitable organization dedicated to helping veterans, is said to be spending donation money on lavish perks for its staff.
A CBS News investigation found that, according to public records, 60% of the organization’s donations are spent on veterans—a low rate compared to similar charities. Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and Fisher House both reportedly give over 90% of donations to aiding veterans.
But in a statement to Fortune, the organization denied CBS’ claims. The Wounder Warrior Project said CBS neglected to reach out to the chair of the organization’s Audit Committee “prior to airing with false information about [its] finances.”
For its investigation, CBS spoke to 40 former employees, many of whom chose to remain anonymous. “It was extremely extravagant. Dinners and alcohol,” one of them told the news station, saying that’s “what the military calls fraud, waste, and abuse.”
Erick Millette is an Army Staff Sergeant who returned from Iraq in 2006 with a bronze star, a purple heart, a brain injury, and PTSD. He began working with WWP in 2013 as a public speaker, and quit two years later after witnessing shocking spending habits. He recounted stories of extravagant parties, saying WWP would pay for everyone to stay at nice hotels and eat at fancy restaurants, chalking it all up to “team building.”
The former employees said that spending increased dramatically when Steven Nardizzi became CEO in 2009. In 2010, WWP spent $1.7 million on conferences and meetings. Just four years later, that number grew to $26 million, about the same that’s spent on the charity’s biggest program. “I’ll be damned if you’re gonna take hard-working Americans’ money and drink it and waste it,” Millette told CBS.
The anonymous sources claimed that a single four-day conference supposedly cost about $3 million. WWP’s director of alumni, Captain Ryan Kules, denied that price tag. Though, CBS writes, he added that he didn’t attend the event and was unaware of what it actually did cost.