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Associate Editors (AEs) are experts in their research fields and some of them are widely well-known to the research community. However, sometimes AEs' peer-review invitations are faced with refusal from academics, due to the lack of time, other engagements, etc. This obliges AEs sometimes to send the invitations to academics in their acquaintance to maximize the chance of getting acceptance.

Can the high status of an Associate Editor within the research community diminish the number of refused sent peer-review invitations to academics?

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It is probably the other way around (which has the same net effect): It is easier to decline a review invitation if the AE asking you is someone you've never heard of, and who does not hold a position of authority in the community. That's because there are no repercussions: You'll likely never meet that person at a conference, you won't need a letter of recommendation from them, and they won't vote on your application for some major prize in your community.

I don't want to suggest that accepting or declining reviewer invitations is as transactional as I make it out above. The majority of reviewing happens because a reviewer invited to a paper finds the topic interesting and/or feels an obligation to their profession to participate in the review process. But in a certain percentage of invitations, a potential reviewer is genuinely pressed for time or at the limit of their knowledge, and it is those cases where other considerations such as those mentioned above come into play.

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Every case is different. People normally review because they want to provide a service to the profession and get early access to potentially new ideas. The star-status of the editor is probably not a consideration for almost everyone.

If a AE can pique the interest of a potential reviewer, however, it might make some difference, as can having a personal/professional relationship with a potential reviewer. I might go out of my way for a friend/AE but not otherwise.

Editors try to develop, over time, a large "stable" of potential reviewers and not to overload them, especially with marginal papers. Then, they have fallbacks for refusals.

Refusals are done for the other reasons you suggest and overloading a reviewer isn't optimal if it means the paper gets a low priority with a reviewer due to other factors, resulting in a long delayed report.

Moreover, the editor/reviewer relationship is invisible to most of the community in any case. So, not a lot of incentive to review a paper that would overload you.

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