Chicagoan's reputation called into question

Social secretary under fire after White House crashers
December 2, 2009 2:49:00 PM PST
White House social secretary Desiree Rogers faces intense scrutiny after a couple was allowed into a state dinner without an invitation.In published reports, the former Chicagoan is being blamed for bungling the security check.

While most White House social secretaries have chosen to stay out of the limelight and defer to the first lady, Rogers not only organized the state dinner, but was also on the guest list. Now, her stellar reputation is being called into question.

Rogers, a good friend of the Obama family, attended President BarackObama's state dinner in a peach gown from a high-end Japanese designer.

"We are very excited...everything is all set," said Rogers at the event last week.

Ninety minutes after Rogers made her entrance at the event, the so-called White House crashers, the Salahis, would walk through that same door.

At first, most of the heat was on the Secret Service for allowing the uninvited couple to get all the way to the president. But now Rogers' decision making is being called into question.

Rogers' worked for Peoples Energy in Chicago for years. She had a reputation as a perfectionist, which is now --at the very least-- a bit tarnished, according to Laura Schwartz, who was the former White House director of special events. Schwartz was there during the Clinton administration.

"I wouldn't be surprised if she downplays her role for a while. I think that would be smart. Portray yourself as hard at work behind the scene. I do think the Obamas have full confidence in her," said Schwartz.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that Rogers will not testify before a congressional hearing into the matter even though she has acknowledged that no one from her office was at the checkpoint to help the Secret Service verify guests, which is a long-standing tradition.

Robin Givhan, writer for the Washington Post, expects Rogers will manage to keep her job, but she'll keep a lower profile.

"I do think that probably the thing to happen most quickly is probably her wings will be clipped a bit," said Robin Givhan, Washington Post staff writer.

The White House has been completely supportive of Rogers, not even hinting that she may be punished or asked to step aside.

The White House is already being criticized for deciding Rogers will not testify at the congressional hearing on Thursday. The top Republican on the committee said that decision creates needless confrontation and is urging Rogers to show up tomorrow.


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