August 27, 2008— -- Former Senator John Edwards has stayed away from the Democratic convention in Denver, but the close friend who helped hide his one-time mistress is receiving VIP treatment here.
Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas trial lawyer and former finance chairman for Edwards' presidential campaign, was seen Tuesday at a private luncheon for top party donors and key senators.
Baron, a longtime major contributor to Democratic candidates, would not answer questions from ABC News and walked away when he saw cameras.
The exclusive lunch was organized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for its highest level donor group known at the Legacy Circle.
It was one a series of VIP events Baron and other top donors have received throughout the convention from party officials, and which allow donors close access to members of Congress.
This VIP treatment organized by the finance committees of the Democratic Party, and the Congressional campaign committees.
And Baron certainly had paid his dues. This election cycle he has made $99,500 in federal campaign donations, including $25,000 to the DSCC, the lunch's sponsor. And since 2000, Baron has given more than $330,000 to federal campaign, in addition to being one of the largest donors in Texas politics.
Texas Democrats say Baron plays a major role in the activities of the delegation in Denver, and helped broker Edwards' endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama.
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Baron acknowledged earlier this month that he had provided "assistance" to the mistress of Sen. John Edwards, Rielle Hunter, after she became pregnant and rumors swirled about her involvement with Edwards.
That "assistance" reportedly has taken the form of access to private jets, luxury homes, cars, and cash.
Baron said he made "the arrangements" without the knowledge of Edwards, who has admitted he had a "short" extramarital affair with Hunter but denies he is the father of her six-month old child, Quinn.
Days before Edwards admitted the affair, in an interview with ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, Hunter was flown to a secret location in a private jet tracked to Baron.
The National Enquirer first reported the Edwards-Hunter affair and later alleged the former Senator was the father of the "love child."