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by Darlene Superville
WASHINGTON (AP)—Desiree Rogers is stepping down from her post as social secretary, effective next month, two White House aides said Friday.
|STEPPING DOWN—In this April 13, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama walks with White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers at the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
A friend of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama from their days together in Chicago, Rogers was criticized for her handling of the administration’s first state dinner. A celebrity-seeking northern Virginia couple got into the exclusive Nov. 24 affair, held in an expansive tent on the South Lawn, without a formal invitation, despite heavy White House security. Rogers was in charge of the dinner.
She later acknowledged not having staff from her office at security checkpoints to help identify guests. Lawmakers had demanded that she testify to Congress about her handling of the event, including one who wanted to subpoena her. The White House would not allow her to appear.
Rogers, 50, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that she was leaving because she had achieved a major goal of the Obamas: turning the White House into the “people’s house” by opening it up to many of those who normally do not get to visit.
“My work was really to create this framework. I think I completed that work,” she told her hometown paper. “Our office has been able to lay the foundation for what will be known as the ‘people’s house’ and it has already taken shape.”
Rogers said she planned to explore opportunities in the corporate world.
The two White House aides spoke on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not yet been made.
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