Rieckhoff denies claims IAVA misused grants
By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 22, 2017
WASHINGTON — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff has denied allegations that he had pressured the staff to misuse grant money and mislead donors.
The allegations by unidentified former employees were published by the Daily Caller. The conservative news website quoted seven anonymous sources as saying IAVA grant money reports were “exaggerated and doctored” to overstate the group’s work or cover for events that were funded but never occurred.
The claims could not be independently verified by Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
Rieckhoff issued a statement about the allegations against the group, a New York City nonprofit that advocates for veterans who have served in wars since 9/11.
“Some troublesome, anonymous accusations have been made against me and IAVA in the partisan internet news source, the Daily Caller,” Rieckhoff wrote. “It’s unfortunate that these nameless sources have gone to such lengths to attempt to discredit me and undermine IAVA’s critical mission.”
He said the group is committed to efficient and sound financial management and transparency.
“I’ve operated in the public eye for over 13 years and my work has been an open book,” Rieckhoff said. “I hope my long record of impact, dedication, success and support for my colleagues and our members will speak for itself.”
The allegations centered on Rieckhoff, calling him the “mastermind” behind doctored grant spending.
In one example cited in the Daily Caller, the accusers allege IAVA received grant funding for anti-suicide mental health training across the country but failed to complete the number of events stipulated by the grant and then allegedly used unrelated events to make up the difference.
“There would be discussion about what needed to be included in a grant to make the funders happy, but that wouldn’t necessarily include facts,” one source told the news site. “In an effort to be honest, I would say ‘Well, this isn’t real, this didn’t happen’ — and I would just be rebuffed.”