Hometown Crowd Sticks By Desiree Rogers

Some see her departure as a sign that the Obama administration will begin cleaning house.

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by Lynette Holloway

When Desiree Rogers quietly stepped down as White House social secretary last week, it came as no surprise to Chicago’s political movers and shakers, such as U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., a longtime African-American leader. “I never expected Desiree Rogers to make a career out of being a social secretary,’’ Davis said.

You see, Rogers, a Chicago socialite and corporate power broker who was previously president of the Illinois utility company Peoples Energy, has long been known as someone who works out front rather than behind the scenes—which is essentially the job of a social secretary). So it was just a matter of time before she said thanks, but no thanks to the job. She will be replaced next month by Julianna Smoot, who served as finance director for Obama’s presidential campaign.

“She did a great job at helping to open up the White House,” said Davis. “In fact, I attended several functions. They were great in terms of interactions and inter-relations with people who do not traditionally go to the White House. She accomplished what she set out to do and she’s ready to move on to the next challenge. I think she went in as a friend, and she leaves as a friend.’’

Rogers resigned on Friday, three months after all the political Sturm und Drang erupted over the Nov. 24 Salahis gatecrasher debacle at the White House state dinner for India’s prime minister. The incident was emblematic of a succession of missteps for Rogers, including appearing on glossy magazine covers and sitting alongside Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, during New York’s Fall Fashion Week last year.

It was a well-timed announcement for President Barack Obama who is being lambasted by conservatives who are critical of his health care plan, and his record recovering jobs and stabilizing the economy. Conservatives are trying to paint him as the new Jimmy Carter, who was known as a well-intentioned but incompetent president.