Charitable Donations Can Win Access

One of the most extravagant parties of the Republican National Convention has revealed a new way the rich and the powerful interact with each other at conventions.

Wednesday night Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was able to raise unlimited money from undisclosed sources by staging an outdoor concert at Rockefeller Center as a charity fund-raiser for the fight against AIDS.

Cost of admission was tax deductible.

Some of the major AIDS activists disapprove, even though a percentage of proceeds will go to AIDS charities.

Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action, an organization dedicated to improving social conditions in Africa, said such events were "a way of giving tax deductions to people who are simply trying to buy access to power."

Frist claimed the charity event had no connection to the Republican Party. He told ABC News the party was "unrelated to the convention, unrelated to access, unrelated to tickets. It's going to save lives tonight."

But IRS documents obtained by ABC News show a clear Republican Party connection.

Frist's AIDS charity, called World of Hope, was approved just three weeks ago, registered by Jill Holtzman Vogel. On the Republican Party Web site, www.GOP.com, Vogel is listed as the GOP's chief counsel.

And according to a tape of the event that was obtained by ABC News, Republican lobbyists and corporate executives were in high attendance.

Large Donation Yields VIP Access

Guests who donated more than $250,000 to World of Hope had access to Frist in a private VIP lounge.

"It's a deplorable exploitation and manipulation of a very real issue, a real tragedy," said Booker.

All week long, the Republicans utilized the new charity concept to pay for parties.

On Sunday night, a lobbying group for small businesses threw a party for a charity described by Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as teaching young people important values through golf. The lobbying group is seeking to keep the minimum wage low.

"You have to learn to keep your own score, learn to be honest about your score," said Boehner.

On Monday night, the chairman of the House Financial Services committee, Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, took over the swanky Rainbow Room, collecting money from Wall Street firms on behalf of something the elaborate CD invitation called the American Council for Excellence and Opportunity.

ABC News found the Virginia address of the council, where donations were sent, to be same address as Oxley's political action committee.

Oxley referred all questions about what the raised money would be used for to the council. "You'll have to ask them," he said.

The Republicans say millions were raised for important charity causes this week.

ABC News' Maddy Sauer, Vic Walter, Jill Rackmill, Simon Surowicz, Yoruba Richen, Christine Romo and Jessica Wang contributed to this report.

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