Who Is Desiree Rogers?

Friend of the Obamas, White House social secretary, and object of scrutiny in the gate crasher scandal

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White House Social Secretary and presidential adviser Desiree Rogers is said to "hold the key" to the Obama brand. That may be true, but now, the former Chicago businesswoman, socialite and "perfectionist" may have her hands full controlling her own image, and career.

Rogers, who has kept a high profile since arriving in Washington, is under fire for the embarrassing security breach at last week's state dinner, with many asking why her office wasn't checking the guest list at the door. (Catch up on Wire coverage of the lapse and the secret service's role here and here.) The controversy heated up on Wednesday, when the Whire House refused to let Rogers, a longtime friend of Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett,  testify before the congressional committee investigating the security lapse. As questions about her relationship with the Obamas intensify, and before pundits call for her head, the Atlantic Wire takes a closer look at the woman behind the controversy. Who is Desiree Rogers?

  • A World-Class Networker With Direct Access to the Obamas Amy Chozik's April feature of Rogers in The Wall Street Journal's style magazine called Rogers "the ultimate social engineer, not just planning White House dinner parties as well as her own intimate soirees but also connecting powerful people in her orbit."
  • The Socialite-in-Chief Gawker's Owen Thomas notes that Rogers "sat next to Anna Wintour at Fashion Week." He says the gatekeeper of "The New New Camelot" is a force to be reckoned with. "Desireee Glapion Rogers orchestrates everything from state dinners to casual cocktails. But don't call her a party planner! She's overseeing a 'strategy for events,' she told NPR."
  • A Corporate Powerhouse The Swamp's John McCormick reports on Rogers's financial prowess:

  • White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, a longtime Obama family friend from Chicago, reported $1.8 million in salary from Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, where she left as president during the middle of 2008.

    [cont...]Rogers also earned $350,000 in salary in 2008 from Allstate Insurance Co., where she was working on a financial social networking program before leaving for Washington. Her service on two corporate boards, Equity Residential and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, netted her another $170,000. She listed stocks, mutual funds and other investments worth at least $2.1 million.
  • A Major Obama Donor Andrew Green of The Center for Public Integrity calls Rogers a "major bundler for the Obama campaign, delivering more than $200,000, according to Public Citizen."
  • ...And a One-Time Bush Donor as Well According to Huffington Post's Fundrace engine, Rogers donated $2,000 to President Bush in 2004, as a Senior Vice President at People's Energy, a Chicago utility company. She donated $1,000 to John Kerry's campaign the same year.
  • A Zulu Queen Yes, a Zulu Queen. Actually, a two-time Zulu Queen. "Presidential aide Desiree Rogers is a New Orleans native -- and two-time Zulu Queen," Johanna Neuman reported in The Los Angeles Times. A New Orleans social and charity club coronates a member "Zulu Queen" each year.
  • Another Obama Crony From Chicago After the righty blogger hears word that the "crony bundler" won't be showing up to the Congressional investigation, Michelle Malkin is off to the races. "But at least she'll be the best-dressed scapegoat in Washington, yes?"
  • A Diva At Huffington Post, Linda Monk says friends rarely make the best employees. "As they say, the devil is in the details. And if Ms. Rogers is not going to attend to them, she better damn well make sure somebody else does. A social secretary is normally a work horse, not a show horse."
  • One of the 50 Most Powerful People in Washington Rogers comes in at number 40 on GQ's 2009 list.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.