Obama friend Desiree Rogers was criticized after Nov. security breach.

WASHINGTON - White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers intends to step down in March, the Chicago Sun Times reported Friday.

Rogers, a longtime friend of President Barack Obama and the first lady, told the newspaper that "this is a good time for me to explore opportunities in the corporate world." During the president's first year, she coordinated over 300 events at the White House.

An administration official confirmed the report to NBC News.

Rogers was criticized for failing to prevent a publicity-seeking couple from entering the White House during a Nov. 24 state dinner without being on the guest list. The White House cited the rule of separation of powers in its decision not to allow Rogers to testify before a House committee investigating the "gatecrashing" incident.

In the past, at state dinners and similar events, a member of the White House social office or other White House staff stood with the Secret Service as guests entered. No one from the White House was with the Secret Service on Nov. 24.


Original Post

Considering all of the mess that we've seen out of "other" administrations, I don't think she should be stepping down behind this.

"Wisdom Is A Woman Putting In Her Two Cents!"

Good.  I think she should be stepping down.  For her or anyone else responsible to expose the first African American president like this (or any American president) is inexcusable.  However, she is not the only one that should be stepping down.  Everyone in the chain of command that is responsible for the safety of the president should also be stepping down and I don't know why that has not happened yet. If these people had been assassins the president, first lady, the vice-president and vice lady, all democrat congresspersons . . . the majority of this administration and our country's highest ranking officials, not to mention the same for so many others from other nations around the world, could have been assassinated or critically wounded, and this could have brought our entire government to a standstill.  Considering how many threats this president has received merely because he is not a white male, there is no way that a breech like this should be overlooked in any way shape or form.  I also hope that the people who have crashed any presidential event have to do time in prison; this is no  laughing matter and should not be treated as if it could even remotely be one.
If he (the POTUS) really wanted to show he was not part of the D.C. two step crowd, he should have fired her sorry a$$ from the get go.
Let me ask this, if she should be fired for making the list what about the guys at the door? Get out, its not her job to protect the President, its her job to plan his parties and social events. She's being scapegoated by the Secret Service who have made numerous excuses as to why they can't do their jobs.
The Secret Service fired three agents because of the incident and initially took the blame all for the entire incident but when the Congressional Committee investigating the incident summoned Desiree Rogers to appear before the committee, she refused to testify, made excuses and hid behind her friendship with the Obamas.

The main issue here is that Ms. Rogers did not have either herself or one of her staff workers positioned at the East Gate (with final approved guest list in hand) with the Secret Service agents, working in tandem at the East Gate to ensure that all arriving guests were properly screened & ID'ed.

The Secret Service don't work for the Social Secretary. The Secret Service agents were left all by themselves on the gate and they didn't know who had RSVP'd on the final guest list. In their minds (and they were wrong) and due to the nature of the event, they probably thought that all persons who showed up at the state dinner were invited.

When the Salahi's arrived at the East gate and told the SS agent that they left their invite at home, the SS agents should have detained them and notify Mr. Rogers (their main mistake) but if Ms. Rogers had herself or one of her people on the gate, with guest list in hand. then when the Salahi's arrived with no invite, then the social secretary staffer would have seen the ommittance on the guest list, radioed Ms. Rogers, who then would have check her copy of the list, then check the computer data base in her office and find out that the Salahi's were never invited. Then she could have either radioed back to the gate, notify her staffer of the absence or go to the gate herself and inquire about the situation. 

Then the Secret Service would go into action; detain/arrest the Salahi's and take them away for questioning.

Plus, there was also another person who was at the party uninvited. A black guy who was part of the national foreign delegation of one of the invited guest but he was also not invited.

Ms. Rogers, instead of doing her job during the state dinner and ensuring that the East Gate was covered along with the SS, was too busy primping and being a diva on the red carpet, expensive dress and all, hogging the camera, smoozing and grinnin' with the guests in the main area while the Salahi's who, if they had a terrorist agenda (and they shook the Prez's hand) could have easily verbally or physically assaulted him/knife/gun and the SS would not have had the initial reaction time too prevent the act from occuring to the Prez, the First Lady or any other guests at the dinner.

And if she was on her job, those three SS agents would not have lost their jobs.

This was a complete embrassment to the President and his staff of the highest order nationally & worldwide and just imagine how Ms. Rogers was viewed by the Prez, the First Lady, her social service staffers and all her WH peers after the incident.

This is zero tolerence territory and after that occured, her reputation and credibility around the WH and nationally was toast.

I just hope that the Obamas learn a hard lesson in that appointing "loyal" Chicago connections, friends, Ivy League classmates, collegues and people who helped him win his election does not automatically make them qualified to hold certain positions but them again that what all Presidents do; surrounding themselves with friendships, relationships & loyalty instead of the people who have the proper resume: the years of experience and expertise in those critical areas to get the job done.

I just hope that when Ms. Rogers get back to Chi-town and tells her story to all her defenders and distractors, that she tells the truth.
Yep, what Cholly said.

I wish Rogers no ill will, but she definitely dropped the ball by not having someone posted ALONG with Secret Service.  As a result well dressed strangers were able to waltz into the whitehouse shake hands and pose for pictures with the first black prez, vice prez, speaker of the house, their spouses, Chief of staff etc.  The entire Obama Admin could have been wiped out, not to mention the prime minister of India.  Not cool at all.

I've been reading that she planned some very nice events at the whitehouse though.  I'm sure she'll land on her feet.


Desiree Rogers, David Axelrod Clashed Over WSJ Profile

Obama Social Secretary Ran Into Sharp Elbows

WASHINGTON — Long before the State Dinner party crashers and the tension with her White House colleagues and the strain in her relationship with the first lady, Desirée Rogers began to understand she was in trouble when David Axelrod summoned her to his office last spring to scold her.

Ms. Rogers had appeared in another glossy magazine, posing in a White House garden in a borrowed $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings. But if the image was jarring in a time of recession, Mr. Axelrod was as bothered by the words and her discussion of “the Obama brand” and her role in promoting it, according to people informed about the conversation.

“The president is a person, not a product,” he was said to tell her. “We shouldn’t be referring to him as a brand.”

The confrontation that day between Ms. Rogers, the White House social secretary, and Mr. Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama, put at odds two longtime Chicago friends of the first family. And it foreshadowed a deeper, wrenching conflict that would eventually cost Ms. Rogers her job and tear at the fabric of the close-knit inner circle around Mr. Obama.

The rise and fall of Desirée Rogers, the glamorous Harvard-educated corporate executive who brought sizzle to the State Dining Room but became a victim of a publicity stunt by a pair of aspiring reality show stars, is a tale familiar to almost any White House. A new president comes to town and installs friends he trusts, but inevitably some of them wind up burned by the klieg lights and corrosive politics of Washington.

While it has happened to past presidents, though, this was the first time it has happened to Mr. Obama, who prided himself on running a campaign free of the typical petty rivalries and personal subplots that distract other politicians. And it happened with a friend who at first was celebrated for personifying the fresh, new-generation approach that the Obamas promised to bring to Washington.

For Ms. Rogers, associates said the episode proved a searing experience that has soured her on Washington. She believes she was left largely undefended by the White House, by her colleagues, including Mr. Axelrod, Robert Gibbs and even her close friend, Valerie Jarrett. And while she is unwilling to discuss her story publicly, several associates shared her account in the belief that her side has been lost in the swirl of hearings, backbiting and paparazzilike coverage.

“As she put it, ‘They never lifted a finger to help me set the record straight,’ ” said one of the associates, who insisted on not being identified to avoid alienating the White House. “She didn’t get any help from Gibbs, no help from Axelrod, no help from Valerie Jarrett. Nobody came to her defense.”

White House officials who asked not to be named rejected that, pointing to instances where Mr. Gibbs and the others publicly defended her, even if it was not as vigorously as she may have wanted.

Asked for comment, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Michelle Obama’s press secretary, praised Ms. Rogers’s “track record of success as an incredibly successful leader of a team here that turned out 330 events over 13 months.”

The tension with her colleagues was building long before November when Michaele and Tareq Salahi, socialites from Virginia, managed to slip uninvited into the State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. Ms. Rogers’s hip style, expensive clothing and presence at fashion shows at first were seen as symbolizing a new Camelot but ultimately struck many as tone deaf in a time of economic hardship and 10 percent unemployment.

The White House eventually clamped down on her public profile. She was ordered to stop attending splashy events and showing up in fancy clothes on magazine covers. When Michelle Obama learned one day that Ms. Rogers was on a train heading to New York to attend an MTV dinner, the first lady told her longtime friend to cancel, associates said.

After the Salahi incident, these associates said Ms. Rogers was barred by the White House from testifying before Congress or giving interviews or even answering written questions. She was told she could not attend the Kennedy Center Honors, a major annual Washington event. And even her decision to finally resign leaked before she could secure a new job.

So Ms. Rogers is leaving the White House and Washington never having been allowed to describe publicly what happened that night four months ago. But in conversations with associates, she has defended herself by noting that she had positioned a staff member to greet guests at the East Portico landing just as the Social Office had sometimes done in the past. And she has expressed disappointment that her work at creating a “people’s house” for the first couple has been overshadowed by one lapse.

“It’s been very difficult for her,” said Amy Zantzinger, who was President George W. Bush’s last social secretary and has become a friend of Ms. Rogers’s. “And I think what can’t be lost is there are all these unbelievable events they did at the White House when she was there, particularly bringing in all the artists and musicians. I don’t think that’s ever been done before to this magnitude.”

Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, faulted Ms. Rogers for not having a staff member at the outer checkpoint on the street and complained that the White House “just totally stiff-armed us” in terms of getting answers to what happened.

But Mr. King suggested Ms. Rogers was left hanging in the wind by the White House. “She was in a tough spot,” he said. “All of us in public life dread the screw-up which is going to come back to haunt you.”

Public life has singed presidential friends over the years with striking regularity, people like Bert Lance during Jimmy Carter’s administration, Vincent W. Foster Jr. and Webster L. Hubbell during Bill Clinton’s, and Harriet E. Miers and Alberto R. Gonzales during George W. Bush’s. Washington can be seductive and then destructive.

In some cases, they were ill equipped for the jobs they were given, unable to transform success in private life or smaller-scale politics to the White House. In other instances, the cutthroat politics proved too caustic to stomach. In the most extreme example, Mr. Foster, a law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton before he became deputy White House counsel, committed suicide in 1993 leaving behind a note saying that “here ruining people is considered sport.”

Off to Washington

A native of New Orleans, Ms. Rogers graduated from Wellesley College and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard University. She got to know the Obamas some 20 years ago through her husband at the time, who went to Princeton University with Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson.

Ms. Rogers’s glamorous looks, fashion taste and on-the-town profile in Chicago obscured a fast rise through the management world, as she served as head of the Illinois lottery, then president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, and finally as a senior executive at Allstate Financial. During the 2008 campaign, she helped bring in roughly $600,000, according to a person familiar with campaign finances.

Tall and striking, Ms. Rogers can easily pass for younger than her 50 years. She seemed to the Obamas to be a natural for White House social secretary. The first African-American to hold the job, she swept into Washington brimming with ideas for executing the Obamas’ vision of opening the White House to a wider circle of people, and became an instant magnet for attention.

After taking an apartment in the same exclusive Georgetown building as her friend, Ms. Jarrett, Ms. Rogers quickly became a hot Washington draw. She posed for a spread for Vogue and later accompanied its editor, Anna Wintour, to Fashion Week in New York. Within months, other magazines came calling, including Town & Country, Vanity Fair, Michigan Avenue and Capitol File.

But it was a spread in The Wall Street Journal’s magazine, WSJ, with the expensive clothes and jewelry provided by the magazine, that got her in trouble in the White House.

Mr. Axelrod called her in for a long conversation about her interviews and photo shoots, warning her explicitly that she was flying into dangerous territory and that Washington loves to watch people become too big and ultimately crash and burn, according to people familiar with the conversation. Ms. Rogers noted that everything she had done had been approved by the White House. She viewed her trips to fashion shows and other events as a way to make connections in the creative community and find talent to perform at the White House.

But her profile was deliberately lowered. Mr. Gibbs, the White House press secretary, had already canceled a proposed photo shoot of Ms. Rogers wearing an Oscar de la Renta ball gown in the first lady’s garden, officials said. Michelle Obama’s new chief of staff, Susan Sher, more closely scrutinized Ms. Rogers’s public activities, to her aggravation.

Praise and Criticism

Amid all this, Ms. Rogers earned widespread praise for the events she organized at the White House, including a summer luau for members of Congress, a poetry jam and a Halloween party for 2,000 trick-or-treaters. She managed to put on 309 events in 2009, compared with 231 produced in the last year of the Bush White House.

“If you look at the totality of her time here,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, “she did a good job of projecting a White House that was open, family friendly and classy.”

Shawnelle Richie, a Rogers friend from Chicago, said, “She is a multitasker of the first order.” Ms. Richie added: “She did a good job. If the impression is she didn’t, I think people are wrong. They’re misinformed.”

For all the attention to Ms. Rogers’s photo spreads, Ms. Richie said, Ms. Rogers kept focused on the job at hand. “Glamour wasn’t a distraction,” she said. “If everybody were to look at her complete work and her history and her background, as opposed to an isolated event, they would see she was the right person for the job at the right time.”

The isolated event, of course, was the State Dinner in November, which in fact received near universal acclaim as an elegant, memorable evening until the next morning when the first reports of the party crashers emerged.

As she put together plans for the dinner, Ms. Rogers and her staff consulted records of two State Dinners held by Mr. Bush before leaving office. The records indicated that the social office in both cases sent a person to the East Portico of the White House, where the metal detectors are stationed for State Dinners, in case any guests are not on the Secret Service list. Her office copied that arrangement.

In the Spotlight

At State Dinners in the past, though, the social office stationed a person, or even more than one, at the outer checkpoint. Critics like Mr. King faulted Ms. Rogers for not doing that. Still, the Secret Service acknowledged it was not supposed to allow the Salahis in without checking. And the officers on duty that rainy night as the long line of wet celebrities and power players waited impatiently did not check with anyone from the social office when the Salahis showed up.

The White House afterward issued a memorandum announcing the policy would be changed. In interviews afterward, both the president and first lady praised the State Dinner, with Mrs. Obama calling it “an outstanding success” and dismissing the gate crashers as “a footnote.” But she and Mr. Obama bypassed opportunities to defend Ms. Rogers. “I was unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process,” the president said. “It was a screw-up.”

Lisa Caputo, who worked in the East Wing under Mrs. Clinton when she was first lady, said Ms. Rogers had weathered the hothouse glare of Washington with grace. “She’s done a fantastic job of opening the White House,” Ms. Caputo said.

“She was put in a position where the spotlight was put on her in a different way,” Ms. Caputo added, “coming in as someone who was not a Washingtonian, coming into a high-profile senior role and being the first African-American in that role. The combination of all three makes it not easy. I would venture to say she’s had a larger mountain to climb.”


Last edited by Cholly

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