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Buy the Numbers

Meet the Doyles. They've made a high-powered business out of lowly bingo.

Kevin Doyle, suspected linchpin in a vast conspiracy involving the secretary of state (possibly), the Denver Broncos (sort of), lobbyist Freda Poundstone (definitely) and a Jesuit priest (at least one), leans back in his office chair and smoothes an explosive shock of frizzled hair back behind his neck. "This," he warns, indicating the streaks of gray, "is what bingo will do to you."

Doyle, who is 33 years old but looks 50, is wearing an untucked shirt desperately in need of some soap. His blue trousers are paper thin; the cuffs have split ends. The soles of his black shoes are worn completely through to his socks.

On the far wall of his office, which is just off South Federal Boulevard, is a framed picture of a saint with a dried palm frond tucked behind it. Underneath is a Knights of Columbus plaque designating Doyle and his family--dad Homer, mother Winifred--Family of the Year.

"What I'd really like," Doyle says somberly, "is to return to school to complete my studies to be a priest." His blessed mother, with whom he lives and works, sits beside him as he speaks.

"My nickname out there is 'The Lightning Rod of Bingo,'" Doyle explains. "Every time there's a problem, I'm the one who gets crucified. And damn it, I'm getting tired of it."

At this, Winnie Doyle glares and huffs at her son. "Mom keeps getting mad at me when I say 'Damn it,'" Doyle says.

What he can't understand, Doyle continues, is why anyone would question his motives. God's honest truth is that everything he has done--collected pots of money, worked late into the night at smoky bingo parlors six and seven times a week--has been for the good of various local charities and for the greater glory of bingo itself.

Doyle's organizations have, in fact, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past four years. Much of the money has crisscrossed between a handful of charities: Concerned Parents for Education, Our Lady of the Rosary Academy, the American Foundation for the Handicapped, Blessed Margaret of Costello, Beacon of Dignity and the Colorado Parents Awareness Association. Doyle's growing number of detractors will point out that each of those organizations is connected in one way or another to a member of the Doyle family. But you give to what you know.

Kevin Doyle even directs a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to advancing bingo as a method for charitable fundraising: the Bingo/Raffle Association of Volunteer Organizations, or Bravo. Through its own bingo games, it has raised thousands of dollars.

Every penny has been accounted for and, Doyle says, went to a necessary expense. The cable TV subscription. The Doyles' travel to conferences, and that of their associates as well. The liquor and party supplies for the selfless Bravo volunteers (whose identities the Doyles must scrupulously protect so that they will not be harassed by state bingo regulators). And thousands and thousands of dollars critical for Bravo's numerous strategy sessions at the Broker Restaurant.

"We sit down and talk a lot, about what's going on, how to get the word out," Doyle says. "This is what we do."

Working in a secular world requires concessions, and over the past few years it has also been a necessary evil for Doyle to retain the services of lobbyist Freda Poundstone, who is a close friend of Secretary of State Victoria Buckley, who regulates bingo games, which Doyle runs. Doyle's groups have paid Poundstone more than $100,000--more, even, than Poundstone has managed to report on her required state disclosure forms.

But securing face time with important legislators is difficult and tiring work. And so when Poundstone suggested she had other needs, the Doyles were ready to oblige.

"Freda said she needed a car," Doyle recalls. "So I said, 'Okay, this is what lobbyists need.' She said, 'I have to get back and forth to the Capitol.' And then there's the appearance thing." In order to help secure the future of bingo, Bravo provided Poundstone with a new Cadillac to ferry her to the legislature.

For her part, Poundstone, who did not return Westword's calls, apparently has become so utterly convinced of the need for fair bingo regulation that she has allowed Bravo's members to convene at her Greenwood Village home. "We were meeting in seedy places, awful hotels," Winnie Doyle remembers. "And so she said, 'Why don't you meet here?'"

And by the way, the lobbyist added, "You'll need some furniture."
So that bingo volunteers could conference more comfortably, last summer the nonprofit Bravo bought the lobbyist $6,000 worth of lawn furniture for her patio. "It's very good, stand-up metal lawn furniture," Kevin Doyle says.

The furniture was purchased just a month before Poundstone hosted an outdoor gathering with Buckley and members of the bingo industry at her home. Even though the event was presented as a $500-a-plate fundraiser for Buckley, "it was mostly a way to get members of the industry to sit down and talk," Buckley recalls. "There was a bowl that sat on the table. If you chose to put money in it, fine. If not, that was okay, too."

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