Rogers, Over and Out

Desiree Rogers stepping down as White House social secretary

By Steve Bryant
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 6:41 PM CDT
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Desiree Rogers | Social Secretary
Substance: F | Flubbed her No. 1 job.
Style: D+ | Hid out from her critics in the aftermath of "Crashergate," but also ditched congressional questioners.
Fashion: Uhh, D | Her fashion sense is questionable.

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White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down, a White House official confirmed today.

Rogers is departing after presiding over 330 events at the White House, the most famous of which -- the Obamas' first state dinner -- became known as Crashergate and embroiled Rogers in national controversy.

The news of Rogers' departure was first reported by the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet.

Rogers will be seeking opportunities in the corporate sector, according to Sweet, though it wasn't immediately clear whether she would stay in D.C. or return to Chicago.

“We are enormously grateful to Desiree Rogers for the terrific job she’s done as the White House Social Secretary," said the President and First Lady in a statement. "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.  She organized hundreds of fun and creative events during her time here, and we will miss her.  We thank her again for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

An Obama administration official told ABC News that the leading candidate to replace Rogers was Julianna Smoot, the current chief of staff for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.  

Though Rogers said it has been "an honor and a privilege to serve" the Obama administration, she's leaving under the shadow of Crashergate, which embroiled the White House and the Secret Service in months of controversy.

Though the White House did not allow Rogers to testify to Congress concerning the scandal -- and Rogers was never explicitly blamed -- the social secretary did receive light public scolding from both senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and President Obama himself.

The blame was doled out to the Secret Service as well.

Rogers, who carries a reputation from Chicago for being the center of social events, reportedly was forced after Crashergate to assume a more low-ley role.

Prior to today, Rogers has been rumored to be seeking other employment.

She has sometimes been lumped into the "Chicago Mafia" -- an entourage of Obama allies which administration critics say, through coddling and mismanagement, has unwittingly undermined the president's agenda.

A native of New Orleans, Rogers came to Chicago after receiving a degree at Wllesley College and a Hravard MBA, then married John Rogers Jr., founder of multibillion-dollar Ariel Capital Management (they have been divorced for a decade).

Rogers was appointed to be Illinois' lottery director by Gov. Jim Edgar in 1990. After achieving a reputation for success at the lottery,  Rogers left in 1997 to join Peoples Gas.

Rogers served as president of Peoples Gas from 2004 until 2008, during which time the utility was sued by the city and state for "massive fraud" linked to the Enron scandal. The scandal pre-dated Rogers' term. Peoples eventually agreed to a record $196 million in refunds.

Rogers left Peoples in '09, briefly worked for Allstate Insurance, and then joined the Obama White House.

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