- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2010

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers will resign in March, four months after three people crashed the Obama’s first State Dinner, according to several news reports.

Ms. Rogers, 50, is a family friend of the Obamas dating back to their time in Chicago. As social secretary, Ms. Rogers purportedly helped organize more than 300 events in the administration’s first 14 months, from the State Dinner to the White House Easter Egg Roll.

The story was reported first by Lynn Sweet, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and the paper’s Washington bureau chief.

“As we turn the corner on the first year this is a good time for me to explore opportunities in the corporate world,” Ms. Rogers, a former corporate executive, told Ms. Sweet.

Speculation that Ms. Rogers would either quit or be fired began soon after the Nov. 24 State Dinner in which celebrity-seeking Virginia couple Tareq and Michaele Salahi and a third person, Carlos Allen, got through security and entered the White House without an official invitation.

Mrs. Salahi got close enough to the president that she shook his hand.

Ms. Rogers came under fire for not having White House staffers at checkpoints. The administration subsequently turned down a request that she testify at a Capitol Hill hearing regarding the incident. Critics also have suggested that Ms. Rogers at times has appeared more interested in wearing high-fashion gowns and appearing on magazine covers than attending to the details of the job.

The situation led to an apology by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who said the agency failed to follow protocol at the checkpoints and that he was “deeply concerned and embarrassed.”

Ms. Rogers also told the newspaper that serving the president and first lady Michelle Obama was “an honor and a privilege … in what has certainly been a historic presidency.”

She said she leaves having achieved the first family’s goal of making the White House the “people’s house.”

“When I took on this assignment, we talked about the importance of creating the people’s house,” she said in the Sun-Times story. “My work was really to create this framework.”

Ms. Rogers said she planned to explore opportunities in the corporate world, where she worked before joining the administration.

“When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the people’s house and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers,” the Obamas said.

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