White House announces new social secretary

White House announces new social secretary
# 28 February 2010 02:42 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. President Barack Obama named his top fundraiser Julianna Smoot as his new social secretary Saturday, after her predecessor came under fire when a socialite couple gatecrashed a White House party, APA reports citing AFP.

Desiree Rogers, a close friend of Obama and his wife Michelle, announced her resignation from the post on Friday.

"Julianna shares our commitment to creating an inclusive, dynamic and culturally vibrant White House, and Michelle and I are pleased to have her join our team," Obama said in a statement.

Smoot, who is chief of staff for the office of US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and served as finance director for Obama’s presidential campaign, said she was "humbled and excited" to take on her new post.

"Over the last year, I have had the honor of building relationships in the international community through my work at USTR, and I am looking forward to implementing this experience at the White House," added Smoot, who has also worked for four senior senators.

Rogers said Friday that her departure from the White House was voluntary and not related to the security breach in November during a state dinner in honor of visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

An angry Obama called the incident a "a screwup," and three Secret Service agents were disciplined. Officials said a third gatecrasher, Washington party promoter Carlos Allen, sneaked into the state dinner, but he claimed he was invited.

Opposition lawmakers accused the White House of "stonewalling" an investigation by not allowing Rogers to testify at a hearing into the affair and insisting she would not resign.

The Salahis appeared at a congressional hearing in January but refused to testify, citing their constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination. Rogers told The Chicago Sun-Times that she would step down in April after 14 months on the job, and that she was weighing a return to the private sector.

"When I took on this assignment, we talked about the importance of creating the people’s house. My work was really to create this framework," she told the newspaper. "I think I completed that work. 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."
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