Buckham’s “Spiritual Advisor” Speaks Out

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The problem with using a small-town pastor to front your fake charity is that eventually he’ll catch on, and he won’t like it.

OK, so maybe it took Chris Geeslin (pictured here with his wife Maryellen) a little longer to catch on than you might expect. But he has. And after making his big debut in the pages of the Washington Post last year, he sat down recently with NPR to explain how he got taken.

To hear Geeslin tell it, Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay’s former chief of staff, bagman and confidante, seemed nice and honest enough. They prayed together. Geeslin even ordained Buckham into the ministry.

Then Buckham, who had just left DeLay’s office to become a lobbyist, asked Geeslin if he’d like to be on the board of a nonprofit. The nonprofit was called the U.S. Family Network. It promoted things like “moral fitness.” Geeslin said he jumped at the opportunity; his wife joined the board too. But then, well:

NPR’s John Ydstie: Geeslin first became uneasy when large donations started rolling in, one for $1 million. He said he suggested to Buckham that maybe the group should focus more on being the grassroots organization described in the U.S. Family Network’s mission statement.

Chris Geeslin: “And [Buckham] looked at me with some disdain. And he said, ‘You know where that million dollars came from? I said, ‘Well, no.’ And he told me ‘This is the way Washington works.’ And he was schooling me, so to speak. He said, ‘That money came from Russian enery magnates, or oil magnates, who wanted to influence Congressman DeLay so he would not vote against the IMF funding of the bailout of Russia.’ And again, he said, ‘That’s the way Washington works, it runs on money.’ At the time, I didn’t know what to do with that. It was like, this has gotta be a joke. It’s beyond belief. It’s surreal.”

Give the piece a listen.