Donna Rice Hughes

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This article is about Donna Rice Hughes. For other people with the name Donna Hughes, see Donna Hughes (disambiguation).
Donna Rice Hughes
Born Donna Rice
(1958-01-07) January 7, 1958 (age 56)
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Education Bachelor of Science, Biology
Alma mater University of South Carolina
Known for Internet safety expert and advocate; President and CEO, Enough Is Enough (EIE)
Spouse(s) Jack Hughes

Donna Rice Hughes (born January 7, 1958) is president and CEO of Enough Is Enough (EIE), an American non-profit organization in the anti-pornography movement, its link to the sexual exploitation and efforts to make the Internet safer for families and children. She became widely known as the key figure in a widely publicized 1987 political scandal that ended the second campaign of Gary Hart for the Democratic Party nomination for President. Hart had been the subject of rumours of marital infidelity. After the pair were photographed aboard Lillian Briggs' yacht, Monkey Business, Hart's campaign came to an end. Since 1994, Rice has worked as an anti-pornography and Internet safety expert advocating for children and families.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

The daughter of a highway engineer and secretary, Donna Rice spent her childhood in Florida, Georgia (in Atlanta), and South Carolina. She began a modeling career at age 13 and maintained a high grade point average in high school while also attending church services and working part-time as a clothing store sales clerk.

Rice graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1980 as a biology major, where she was both an honors student and cheerleader.[2] College graduation was also a critical time for her, she said: "I really didn't know where to go next. I had big expectations, and not a lot of guidance." After she graduated from the university, she entered the Miss South Carolina/World beauty pageant and won. She went to New York to compete nationally.[3]

Rice has openly said she was a victim of date-rape "on the way to New York by an older man who was involved with the pageant system, and lost my virginity at that time." She says the rape was "the turning point in my life, the catalyst that propelled me further into an unhealthy lifestyle".[3] While she did not win the beauty pageant, she remained in New York to pursue an acting and modeling career.

After a relative lack of success in New York City, Rice moved to Miami, where she worked as a television commercial actress for a pharmaceutical company and a small marketing business, as well as appearing in an episode of the TV series Miami Vice. In March 1987, she met former Senator Gary Hart at a Miami fundraiser.[3]

Gary Hart scandal[edit]

Photo of Donna Rice sitting on the knees of Gary Hart on the yacht Monkey Business, the climactic image that ended Hart's second 1988 presidential campaign.

Soon after meeting Rice, Hart announced that he would run for nomination as the Democratic candidate for President. Having enjoyed a surprisingly strong campaign in 1984 against the eventual nominee, former Vice President Walter Mondale, he was widely perceived as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 1988. However, shortly thereafter rumors began circulating about his having an extra-marital affair, leading the candidate to challenge the media to surveil him, and to also claim that anybody who did so would "be very bored." The day before Hart's dare to the media was to appear in The New York Times, however, two reporters for the Miami Herald observed Rice coming out of Hart's Washington, D.C., townhouse, and their story was published on the same day that his challenge appeared in the Times. While Hart contended that the reporters could have no knowledge of exactly when Rice arrived or why she was there, his popular appeal nevertheless suffered a major blow, and polls taken almost immediately afterward found him to be 10 points behind Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. Two days after their initial story, the Herald obtained a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap in Bimini aboard a luxury motor yacht named Monkey Business lent by socialite Lillian Briggs. The celebrity tabloid National Enquirer published the photograph, and within five days Hart had decided to drop out of the Democratic Presidential nomination race.[4][5]

As a result of the scandal, Rice lost her job as a marketing representative for a pharmaceutical company in South Florida.[6] The enormous publicity generated by the Hart scandal resulted in numerous other offers, however, and while she refused most – including one for an appearance in Playboy magazine – she did work as a national spokeswoman for No Excuses jeans until Hart's unsuccessful re-entry into the presidential race in December 1987.[7]

Internet safety[edit]

Hughes is an advocate and speaker on the issue of protecting kids online. In 1994, she became communications director and spokesperson for Enough Is Enough (EIE) focusing on an Internet Safety 101SM program with the Department of Justice and other partners. She is the executive producer, host and instructor of the Internet Safety 101SM DVD series. Since 2002, she has been President and CEO championing EIE's mission to make the Internet safer for children and families.[8][9]

Hughes has been on national broadcasts including Dateline, The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and 20/20.[10]

She co-wrote the story for the May 2000 season finale episode of Touched by an Angel that brought the message of Internet dangers and online safety to prime time television and won the Nielsen ratings for its time slot during the May sweeps period.[8] She authored the book, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace and website[11]

Hughes was appointed by Senator Trent Lott to serve on the Child Online Protection Act (COPA, 1998) Commission and served as co-chair of the COPA Hearings on filtering/ratings/labeling technologies. She also serves on various Internet safety advisory boards and task forces including the 2006 Virginia Attorney General’s Youth Internet Safety Task Force and the 2008 Internet Safety Technical Task Force, formed with MySpace and the U.S. Attorneys General. She has received numerous awards including the National Law Center for Children and Families Annual Appreciation Award, and the “Protector of Children Award” and Media Impact Award from the National Abstinence Clearinghouse.[8]

Education and Family[edit]

Hughes received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She is married to Jack Hughes and has two grown step-children, Sean and Mindy, and a grandson, Alexander Briggs.[8]


  1. ^ Edmund L. Andrews (27 November 1995). "Once Touched by Notoriety, Donna Rice Is Now in Limelight FightingSmut". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Jon Swartz (9 November 1998). "Donna Rice Says No Excuses for Net Porn / Gary Hart's ex-paramour has reinvented herself". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Marcia Segelstein (12 March 2012). "When Enough was Enough: The Story of Donna Rice Hughes". Salvo Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Richard Zoglin (18 May 1987). "Stakeouts And Shouted Questions". Time Magazine. 
  5. ^ E.J. Dionne Jr. (9 May 1987). "Courting Danger: The Fall of Gary Hart". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Amy Debra Feldman (12 September 2000). "Donna Rice Hughes says Enough is Enough". Salon Magazine. 
  7. ^ "Rice Loses Her Job - Correction Appended". The New York Times. 16 December 1987. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Donna Rice Hughes, President & CEO, Enough Is Enough". Spokespersons. Enough Is Enough. 
  9. ^ Kathleen Hom (4 July 2010). "Whatever Happened To ... the woman on the senator's lap". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "EIE President Donna Rice Hughes joins the Today Show June 2004". YouTube. June 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Donna Rice Hughes (August 1998). Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace. Fleming H. Revell. p. 269. ISBN 978-0800756727. 

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