Skip to main content

White House social secretary to step down

Desiree Rogers says her position as White House social secretary "has been incredible."
Desiree Rogers says her position as White House social secretary "has been incredible."
  • Desiree Rogers came under scrutiny after White House state dinner
  • She says her decision is unrelated to the fallout over the security breach.
  • "Headed back to private sector," she says in e-mail
  • "We are enormously grateful ... for the terrific job she's done," Obamas say

Washington (CNN) -- Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary, plans to step down, the Obama administration announced Friday.

Her office came under scrutiny after a couple who lacked an invitation were allowed into President Obama's first state dinner.

"We are enormously grateful to Desiree Rogers for the terrific job she's done as the White House social secretary," the president and first lady said in a statement released Friday.

In an interview on Friday, Rogers said she was leaving voluntarily and that her decision was unrelated to the fallout over the security breach.

"It has nothing to do with that," she said. "It's Secret Service's job to handle security. Not the social secretary's office." The Obamas' statement did not mention November's party-crashing incident

"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."

Rogers said in an e-mail to CNN on Friday, "It has been incredible setting the foundation for the [White House] for this historical presidency. Headed back to private sector."

"I accomplished initially what I came to do," Rogers said later. "I like strategy. I like building something. It's built... the foundation of the [social secretary's] office is good and solid."

Rogers would not say where she'll be working. She said she'll be "around to work on the transition" to a new social secretary at the White House.

She summed up her experiences at the White House in another note: "330 events. Halloween for 3,000. Easter egg roll for 30,000. Music series with performances and the performers teaching the students during the day. Latin, jazz, country, civil rights. "

In December, the White House was accused of stonewalling as Congress investigated the party-crasher security breach at Obama's first state dinner. At issue was whether the White House was protecting Rogers from testifying about how Tareq and Michaele Salahi were able to crash the first White House state dinner. The couple did not have an invite but were allowed in.

Rogers' office planned the dinner.

At the time, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said his agency would take the heat for the incident.

"This is our fault and our fault alone," he told federal lawmakers.

"There's no other people to blame here. ... Look at me and blame me," he told members of the House Homeland Security Committee.

CNN's Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux and John King contributed to this report