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Wounded Warriors Get High Marks From Ratings Agencies

Image: Wounded Warriors Get High Marks From Ratings Agencies
(AP)

By    |   Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 04:33 PM

The Wounded Warriors Project has been vindicated by two charity-ratings agencies and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly after devastating news reports last year alleging lavish event spending and organizational mismanagement instead of using donations to aid veterans.

"Your money is going where it should go," Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said last month after the Better Business Bureau released its strong ranking. "It's going to help the vets."

The bureau's Wise Giving Alliance said in January spending by Wounded Warriors was "consistent with its programs and missions."

The alliance had suspended the charity's designation after the January 2016 news reports.

In February, Charity Navigator gave Wounded Warriors an overall 90.49 score, out of 100 — 96 on "accountability and transparency" — and upped its rating to four stars.

Founded in 2003, the Wounded Warrior Project provides a range of programs and services for veterans who have been injured in combat. The charity is based in Jacksonville, Fla.

As of March, Wounded Warriors has served 99,833 alumni and 22,701family members, according to its website.

In its reports, The New York Times and CBS News contended that spending by Wounded Warriors on conferences and meetings rose from $1.7 million in 2010, to $26 million in 2014.

In the fallout, the Wounded Warriors board fired CEO Steven Nardizzi and Chief Operating Officer Al Giordano — and 85 staffers were later laid off.

But later investigations showed those firings were not justified by the facts.

And disabled veterans appeared to be the biggest loser. The charity reportedly lost as much as $200 million in contributions.

Last July, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Linnington was named CEO, promising greater transparency within the organization.

He told news organizations shortly thereafter that Wounded Warriors had lost as much as $100 million in revenue.

"We're not where we were, but we're optimistic about the future," Linnington told The Florida Times-Union in February after Charity Navigator's report was released. "We're thankful and grateful for the mission we've been honored to have."

Besides the investigations by O'Reilly's "Truth Serum" staff, Charity Navigator and the BBB, Wounded Warriors hired its own outside attorneys and forensic auditors. They found no financial improprieties.

In addition, Doug White, a former director of Columbia University's master's degree program in fundraising management, conducted his own three-month study on the controversy.

"The Wounded Warrior Project was doing a pretty good job at what they should be doing," White told Newsmax in an interview. "The next step of the conclusion would be they got punished unfairly."

The BBB and Charity Navigator rankings, as well as White's own report, vindicated Wounded Warriors.

"The answer is an unqualified yes," he said. "These reports in fact do vindicate or should vindicate what was going on before — because the information in those reports were based on the stuff that was true while Steve and Al were still there."

Therefore, the Times and CBS should apologize, said White. He expects to publish a book on Wounded Warriors next year..

"The New York Times did such a poor job — and I think that CBS did such a poor job," he told Newsmax.

"Any reporter, any person who's going to investigate or do any research on anything should look at the totality of things.

"In this particular case, they went down a very narrow road and found the story they wanted and basically back-tracked to fit the narrative.

"They did wrong — and it was lazy journalism," he said.

Giordano, however, was far harsher — slamming the reports as "fake news."

"They should absolutely retract it," he told Newsmax, also in an interview. "We've been saying this for a year that CBS and the Times got it wrong. Horribly wrong.

"CBS and the Times, for whatever reasons they had, came through and manufactured these stories — and it caused all this harm."

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The Wounded Warriors Project has been vindicated by two charity-ratings agencies and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly after devastating news reports last year alleging lavish event spending and organizational mismanagement instead of using donations to aid veterans.
wounded, warriors, ratings, agencies
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2017-33-23
Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 04:33 PM
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