Where Were the White House Bouncers?

State dinner crashers raise questions about role of White House Social Office.

ByABC News
November 29, 2009, 9:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2009— -- With nearly a year of East Wing experience under her fashionable belt, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is facing questions about protocol procedures after two wannabe reality TV stars were able to crash the first White House state dinner of the Obama administration, an event in honor of the prime minister of India.

Virginia socialites Michaele and Tareq Salahi were able to make their way past layers of security despite not being invited to the event and not showing up on any of the official lists at the White House checkpoints.

Rogers, a longtime friend of the Obamas and former business executive in Chicago, knew the gargantuan assignment she was taking on when she assumed the role of social secretary for the Obama White House.

After all, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made it clear they wanted to bring change to the executive mansion and make their new home a more open, welcoming place to average Americans, like the ones they met over the years on the presidential campaign trail.

The responsibility of pulling that off falls to Rogers, who as social secretary is the principal coordinator for the social events at the White House and for the president and first lady.

The office works with all aspects of the White House staff, from the West Wing to the Residence Staff to the Secret Service, to plan and execute events on the famous grounds.

Rogers, who has been frequently profiled for her own personal style in addition to that of the Obamas, told Vogue last winter that her role as social secretary was to help Americans "visualize what the Obama presidency is about, the feelings Americans voted for -- inclusion, transparency, embracing people you might never otherwise learn about -- and also translating the splendor, that sweetness, that comfort of the White House to everyone."

After a pause, she smiled and admitted the obvious to the fashion magazine: "Enormous task."

Since January, the Obamas have been applauded by officials from past administrations and Washington social watchers for living up to their pledge to open up the White House.