On Monday, the Daily Caller reported that former employees of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization are accusing its CEO of abusing staff and pressuring employees to lie about grant funds and mislead donors. Several individuals spoke to the Daily Caller on anonymity providing details about how they believe IAVA CEO Paul Rieckhoff “fostered an environment that puts pressure on employees to aggressively fiddle with numbers so that grant finances and grant project goals can be listed as complete.”
“We’re tired of seeing funds misused with no support for actual programs,” one former IAVA employee told the Daily Caller, before going on to explain how IAVA mishandles grant funds.
“IAVA does not set aside their grant money for specific grants,” they said. “They don’t do particularly good bookkeeping when it comes to grants, and I don’t think anyone could say definitively that the money that they get from one grant to another goes specifically to match specific grants.”
The former employee added that “everything goes into one account and then the bookkeeping happens when it’s time to do reports.”
The Daily Caller reported that Rieckhoff would also manipulate the numbers for goals reached as well, in order to make it seem like the organization met certain event quotas. The Daily Caller explained:
In one particular example, IAVA received a grant for mental health funding to combat veteran suicide through a national training initiative. This grant included holding training events across the country. When not enough mental health events happened, normal membership-type events were counted in the final grant report as mental health events.
“This is not something that the staff is okay with and not something the staff would do on their own,” the anonymous employee said. “This is about a fundamental culture at IAVA that Paul has created.”
“Paul is the mastermind of this stuff,” they added.
A second employee said that while working as the IAVA grant writer they told management that the organization was losing grant money because it was offending donors by not meeting basic grant goals.
“[W]e essentially threw away our grants … because as an organization–as a culture–we can’t be bothered with grants compliance, even though grants keep us afloat,” they said.
Another former staffer, who was a senior employee, said that the company had a high turn-over rate and a lot of that was due to Rieckhoff’s terrible management.
“I’ve never seen a company torn apart like IAVA,” the former senior employee said.
“I would also say in some ways Paul was abusive,” they continued. “He would be very demeaning of people, frankly including me. Micromanaging to an insane level.”
Testimonials about IAVA on Glassdoor, a site where employees can review the companies they work for, show extreme unhappiness with Rieckhoff.
American Military News reached out for comment about the Daily Caller’s report but the IAVA has yet to respond.